Swim in our Region

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 page.

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Ferry Reserve

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 initatives 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.


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. 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 $1500 inc GST.

Terms and Conditions:
The Swim in our Region competition runs from 1 December 2018 until 12 noon 23 April 2019. 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 randomly selected, with the winner notified via social media by 6 May 2019. No correspondence will be entered into following the prize draw. Prize may include water activities such as kayaking, white water rafting or boating, along with one night’s accommodation and dinner. Prize(s) can not be exchanged for cash.
Manganui o te Ao River at Ruatiti Domain

Manganui o te Ao River at Ruatiti Domain
If you want to get away from it all then head to the Ruatiti Domain, located north of Raetihi. It is the only area in Ruapehu where freedom camping is permitted. Toilet facilities, tap water and BBQs are provided and perhaps best of all, there is no cell phone coverage! A great swimming spot (yes the water is cold), the Manganui o te Ao River is also a renowned river for fishing. So grab your togs, rod, pack a picnic or your tent, just don’t forget to tell someone when you’ll be back.

Rangitikei River at Vinegar Hill

Rangitikei River at Vinegar Hill
Just off State Highway 54, north of the Stormy Point Lookout you’ll find the highly popular, idyllic Vinegar Hill swim spot and camping grounds. Partially surrounded by cliffs this is a great sheltered spot for the family to relax. The reserve is perfect for those wanting to swim, fish, canoe or go whitewater rafting. There are bins and toilet blocks on site for everyone to keep this loved site in great condition for all to enjoy.

Lake Wiritoa in Whanganui

Lake Wiritoa
Lake Wiritoa is one of the Region's three coastal lakes a few minutes south of Whanganui. The lake is a major recreational hub for the city, with both the Wanganui Water Ski Club and Whanganui Multisport Club using the area regularly. Swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, boating, and water skiing can all be enjoyed at Lake Wiritoa with other activities available around it. 

Mangahao River at Poplar Reserve

Mangahao River at Poplar Reserve
Poplar Reserve is affectionately named so, and is actually part of the reserve on Makomako Road. It is a lovely tree lined, secluded spot perfect on those hot summer days.  Drive into the area and walk down to Mangahao River with a picnic and you’ve got a perfect, family friendly activity. There are currently no facilities at Poplar Reserve.

Oroua River at Bartletts Ford

Oroua River at Bartletts Ford
This popular reserve is located on Terrace Road, just 10 minutes from Kimbolton. It is a lovely scenic spot suitable for swimming and freedom camping. This part of the Oroua River has a small beach and is the perfect spot to relax and swim.


Manawatu River at Ahimate Beach

Manawatu River at Ahimate Beach (formerly Waitoetoe Park)
Ahimate Park in Palmerston North connects with a number of the walkways along the Manawatu River and is popular with families, cyclists and dog owners. The adjacent Ahimate Beach is a large pebbled area, where the river is shallow enough for children, however also deep enough to jump from low ledges on the cliff face from the other side. This site is of cultural significance for Rangitāne o Manawatū.

Ohau River at Gladstone Reserve

Ohau River at Gladstone Reserve
Located 10 minutes east of Levin and a ‘gateway’ to the Tararua Ranges, this is a popular picnicking and swimming spot during summer. With public toilets on site, take a day trip and enjoy one of the bush walks nearby linking into the Te Araroa walkway. Follow up with a dip in Ohau River in the afternoon.

Tasman Sea at Foxton Beach

Tasman Sea at Foxton Beach
Located 5km west of Foxton is a small township known as Foxton Beach. This beach is frequently visited by locals from Palmerston North and the wider Manawatu area during summer. There is plenty to do from fishing, kite boarding, surfing, and swimming at the beach, to enjoying the parks, reserves, walkways and nearby cycleways.

Whanganui River at Mosquito Point

Whanganui River at Mosquito Point
This picturesque spot is a favourite for the locals, but beware of the name – take plenty of insect repellent. Pack a picnic to enjoy on the outdoor tables located on the shaded grassy area before taking a dip in the Whanganui River. There is also a changing room and new seating available at the spot. If you’re searching for directions, Google Maps will help you get there – just search Mosquito Point.

Whanganui River at Manunui Domain
Located in Taumaranui at the Mananui Domain, next to Taumaranui Holiday Park, this spot is the first town at the beginning of the Whanganui River so is often used as a starting point for scenic kayaking, canoeing, jetboating.