The shark attack at Muriwai Beach on Auckland's west coast is being described as unbelievably freakish.
Local man Adam Strange died at the beach yesterday after being attacked by a four metre long shark, thought to be a great white.
Muriwai remains closed until at least tomorrow and beaches to the south have been re-opened.
Muriwai Lifeguard Service chair Tim Jago describes the whole event as surreal.
"Statistically it should never have happened. There were a number of people in the water and some were not that far away from Adam - it could have been any one of them, and those that were in the water we know as well, so they're all sort of sitting there saying 'why him?'"
Tim Jago says there'll be a strong lifesaving presence at the beaches over the next two days.
Brendan O'Connor, who's surfed at the beach for 35 years, says sharks lurk around the seal colony and don't tend to come into the surf.
But he says yesterday was exceptionally flat, with nearly no waves at all.
Brendan O'Connor has never heard of a shark sighting let alone a full-blown attack at the beach.
Three lifeguards responded to the initial emergency call, and discovered his body in the water with sharks circling around.
Tim Jago says two of them are in their early 20s, and a shark attack is the last thing they expected to have to deal with during their summer holiday employment.
He adds attacks are so rare, there's nothing in the surf lifesaving training about how to deal with them.
The closest their training comes is first aid.
Tim Jago says the club members knew Mr Strange which hasn't made the incident any easier.
Photo: Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust