Two swimmers missing near Auckland

Hunua falls, near Auckland. Photo: NZME
Hunua falls, near Auckland. Photo: NZME
Emergency services are currently searching for two missing people near separate Auckland swimming holes. 

South of the city, a man went under the water at Ramarama swimming hole off Pratts Rd, and has failed to surface.

The incident is believed to have occurred at the Maketu Waterfall.

Maketu Waterfall is a popular swimming spot found at the Maketu Pa Cemetery Reserve, roughly a 30-minute drive from Auckland City.

Elsewhere, a man has not been seen since before 3pm after he was swept into the water at Hunua Falls today.

Emergency services have spent the afternoon scouring the surrounding area for him but he has not been located.

As a result of the search, the accessway to Hunua Falls has been closed while emergency services search for him.

Land Search and Rescue, along with police and the police helicopter are currently searching for the man.

Police said in a statement the Police Dive Squad will also be attending the incident.

The swimming hole has claimed several lives over the years, including two teenagers in March 2016.

Peter Lemalu, 17, and Lilatoni Vetemotu, 13, both died at the falls within several days of each other after both coming into trouble.

Their deaths resulted in a plea from drowning victims' families to close the swimming hole, however, they were unsuccessful.

In April 2016, Auckland Council parks manager Mark Bowater said there were no plans to fence the falls or assign lifeguards.

"It's an incredibly scenic, beautiful spot [but lifeguards] are not being seriously considered, so there's no fundamental change to the site."

He said using lifeguards would send the message that people were encouraged to swim there, when council recommends people avoid doing so.

Several combining factors make the falls hazardous to swimmers.

Bowater said the extreme variations in depth meant swimmers could go from waist-deep water around the edge to depths of up to 19m in one step.

"We've got very deep water there, that's one of the main hazards.

"There's a sharp drop-off from the edges. There are some shallow edges that are quite visible and there are even rocks where you can cross from one side to the other but they are slippery.

"You've got a sharp drop down to that deepest point."

The waterfall is 30m high, and as fresh water hits the pool from that height it aerates, making it less buoyant.

 

 

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