Swim in Our Region

In light of the current COVID-19 Level 4 status across the country, we have had to put an early end to our swim spot monitoring of over 80 sites throughout the region.

This season saw many of us out and about, enjoying swim spots, which was reflected in the high number of entries to our #swiminourregion photo competition. The winner of the competition will be announced once things return to a lower alert level.

In terms of the overall swimmability at sites across our region, analysis of the data has now begun and we expect to share more in the coming months. A special thanks to MidCentral DHB, Ngā Waihua o Paerangi Trust, our region's city and district councils, and the wider community for their collaboration and support this season.

For more information about our swim spot program and previous seasons results please refer to the 2019 State of the Environment report.

There’s a lot of commentary in the media about swimmability, which sometimes can be confusing. For example, high flows and floods during winter unfortunately means swimmable rivers 100 per cent of the time will never be a reality. We recognise the importance of being well informed, and that is why every week during summer we will be monitoring the health of over 80 swim spots to provide you with reliable information on the potential health risks in our waterways. The good news is that Horizons’ swim spots are swimmable the majority of summer. Not only are these popular sites excellent for swimming, they often include picnic and camping areas, bush walks, and toilets, making them a great place to spend with family and friends. We encourage you to get out there and enjoy them.

To find out the current health of your favourite swim spot visit the safe swim spots map.


Swim, splash and share your Region

From rafting the Rangitīkei and picnicking in the Pohangina, to swimming at South Beach and fishing at Foxton, our region is full of fantastic swim spots ready for you to enjoy this summer. 

Plus we’re offering you the chance to #swiminourregion and WIN! Check out the video of our first year's winners who went whitewater rafting in the Rangitikei River >>>

How to enter:

Simply post a pic of your favourite swim spot to our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts with #swiminourregion. However make sure we see it! Feel free to send it to use by private message if you're unsure if we saw it. Also be sure to tag the Horizons Region location too, and you're in the draw to win a family adventure package for four, up to the value of $1,500 inc GST.

Terms and Conditions:
The Swim in our Region competition runs from 4 December 2019 until 12 noon 15 March 2020. You may enter as many times as you like. Entries must include the #swiminourregion hashtag and a tagged Horizons’ location. By entering this competition you are giving Horizons permission to use your image for future publicity and promotional purposes. Horizons has the right to report any images that are in breach of standard social media guidelines and Horizons’ safety guidelines (for example nudity, profanity, or evidence of reckless or unsafe activity). Winning entries will be judged by a panel to be determined, with the winner notified via social media by 1 April 2020. No correspondence will be entered into following the prize draw. Prize may include water activities such as kayaking, white water rafting or boating and/or staying somewhere near water within our region. Prize(s) cannot be exchanged for cash.


Water Quality - what we look for and what we do

We often hear about levels of bacteria (E.coli) or potentially toxic algae as indicators of water quality but what are they? Why do we measure them and why do we need to be wary if they reach high levels?

Common sources of E.coli are untreated human wastewater discharges, stormwater run-off and animal waste. Too much E.coli means that the water is unsafe to drink or swim in and can cause infection. Cyanobacteria (commonly known as potentially toxic algae) inhabit all natural waters and usually only become a problem when they increase to high coverage,

forming excessive 'blooms', this is usually during summer when it's warm and river levels are stable. Cyanobacterial species are known to produce toxins that can be a threat to humans and animals if consumed or contracted during recreational activities so Horizons will always look for potentially toxic algae when monitoring a swim spot. 

Our swim spot and other monitoring programmes help inform our regulatory and non regulatory work initiatives aimed at improving water quality. Regulatory measures include the One Plan, and working with city and district councils to ensure their wastewater treatment plants are performing as they should be. Our non regulatory initiatives include the Manawatu River Leaders’ Accord, Horowhenua Lake Accord, creating planted riparian strips to absorb nutrients and filter run-off before it enters our waterways, and fencing streams and rivers to exclude livestock. We also have the Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI) which aims to reduce sediment (a source of E.coli and phosphorous) entering our rivers via run-off from the region's hill country land. A Landcare Research report which assessed the impact of SLUI on sediment levels in the region's rivers, was commissioned by Horizons in 2013. The closest scenario to how SLUI currently operates predicted the annual sediment load in rivers will reduce by 27 per cent as a result of SLUI works by 2043. 

While we understand there is always room for improvement, these activities are proactive measures that we know will pay off in the future. Learn more about freshwater in the Horizons Region.

If you want to know more about what you can do to help improve water quality, check out some ideas here