Safe swim spots

Our Region is home to many popular swimming spots which provide fantastic places to cool off when conditions are right. At the same time it's important to remain mindful of risks presented by swimming in a natural environment and keep an eye out for rips at beaches and sunken logs, rocks and river bank trees in rivers that could present a hazard.

The links to information on the freshwater and coastal swim spot pages below is the most reliable source of day to day guidance on the potential health-risks to people and animals from using our waterways. The assessments are based on the density of health-risk indicator bacteria and cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) growths sometimes observed in some rivers and popular coastal lakes. The advice is based on NZ guidelines for these parameters.

Horizons Regional Council reports on water quality at popular swimming spots in the Region between 1 November and 30 April each summer season.  

Most up-to-date information for: 

  1. freshwater swimming spots is found here
  2. coastal swimming spots is found here
  3. Lake Horowhenua is found here

Practical Advice

The information is as up-to-date as possible, but we cannot predict changes in river water quality due to weather conditions or one-off pollution incidents since our last observation. In reality you are the best judge of the suitability of a swim spot when using the following rule of thumb:

  • If the water looks clean and clear and it is a sunny day, it should be safe to swim
  • It is safest to wait for the water to clear after rain before swimming at river swimming spots
  • If musty smelling, black slimy mat-like growths are observed on river bed stones during low river flows, it is safest for you and your dog to avoid using the river.

Swim Spot Grading

If you wish to view the long-term grading of sites in New Zealand you can find it at the LAWA website. LAWA provides water quality information and comparisons on monitored sites from across New Zealand including the Horizons Region . Gradings are based on the Microbiological Water Quality Guidelines for Marine and Freshwater Recreational Areas (2003). The gradings are based on the results of long-term monitoring and a risk assessment of activities in the catchment. They are most suited to state of the environment reporting. They are less suited for day to day guidance and do not consider the potential health-risk to people and animals from cyanobacteria proliferations.