The Lyall Bay Surf & Life Saving Club, established in 1910,
was the first surf lifesaving club to patrol in New
The club has been providing a volunteer service focused on
saving lives and preventing injury for Lyall Bay and south coast
beach users and the Wellington Community over the last
Lyall Bay is a very popular beach with families, swimmers,
walkers, runners, surfers and windsurfers.
Lyall Bay SLSC lifeguards patrol the beach on Saturdays and
Sundays from mid November through to the end of March. Over the
last ten years Lyall bay SLSC Life Guards have carried out one
hundred and twenty three rescues.
As well as providing a community service Lyall Bay SLSC members
compete with distinction at Wellington district and national level,
and have held World titles in both Senior and Masters
Past members of Lyall Bay Surf & Life Saving Club (LBSLSC)
have included Cook Strait and English channel swimming legend Phil
Rush, record breaking swimming star Rebecca Perrott, and past
Governor General Freyberg (it is said that his great swim in the
Dardanelles in the First world war could be traced back to his
swimming days in the cold waters of Lyall Bay).
The history of the Lyall Bay SLSC starts in 1909 when members of
the Wellington Swimming Club used to assemble at Lyall Bay
beach every week to practice life saving.
Members were involved in both patrolling and rescues with three
spectacular rescues taking place in large surf at Lyall Bay on
Sunday February 20th, 1910.
One person had drifted some distance out to sea and a rescuer
set off on horseback carrying a lifebuoy, but was unable to reach
the person. Wellington Swimming Club member Mr. W. G. Morpeth swam
out and rescued the exhausted person and brought them back to the
The second victim lost his footing and was carried out by the
strong tide. He was brought back to land by a human chain.
The third incident of the day occurred when a man had his leg
broken when he was hit by a large wave. The suggestion was made in
The Dominion newspaper the following day that members of swimming
clubs should form a life saving corps, with the City Council
providing rescue equipment.
The Wellington Swimming club, set up in 1894, had as one of its
aims the fostering of humane work, and concerned about a lack of
progress on the issue by the Wellington Centre of the NZ Amateur
Swimming Association decided at a meeting in July 1910 to set up a
lifesaving branch of the club to operate at Lyall Bay. This lead to
heated discussions with the Wellington Swimming Centre with
headlines in the press recording "A lively meeting", "Trouble over
a Surf Club".
However in August 1910 the first life saving reel to be used in
New Zealand was
imported from Australia by W. G. Morpeth on behalf of the
Wellington Swimming Club for service with the Lyall Bay club. By
December 1910, with the assistance of a Wellington City Council
grant of £6, Lyall Bay had three reels. This made the club both the
first to patrol and the first to practice surf life saving
procedures in New Zealand.
A clubhouse was built by the Wellington City Council in 1910,
but was replaced by a stronger structure when the original one was
washed away by a strong southerly storm a few months later.
The origin of modern surfing in New Zealand
Lyall Bay in Wellington also has been called 'the origin of
modern surfing in New Zealand' since the legendary Duke Kahanamoku
introduced the "royal and noble art" of surfboard riding there in