Coastal water sampling

Holidaymakers can easily find out whether the water’s okay at the region’s popular freshwater and coastal swimming spots by checking the Taranaki Regional Council website,

The Taranaki Regional Council is monitoring water quality at popular beaches and freshwater swimming spots over summer.

The Council’s annual recreational water-quality monitoring programme has been running every summer since 1979 for coastal beaches and since 1987 for freshwater swimming spots. This year it covers 13 coastal beaches and 17 freshwater locations, with samples collected at least fortnightly at all them and more frequently at most.

The Council’s Director-Environment Quality, Gary Bedford, says the monitoring consistently shows that our popular coastal beaches are of better quality than the national average.

“Last year, 99% of samples taken from coastal beaches were within Ministry for the Environment guidelines and no site reached the ‘Action’ level,” he says.

“And water quality at popular recreational spots on rivers is better than a decade ago and far better than in the 1960s and 1970s. Last year, 86% of all samples from freshwater sites met the Ministry for the Environment recreational water quality guidelines.

“Wildfowl and gulls were the major source of contamination at the two sites that routinely exceeded the guideline – near the mouths of the Waiwhakaiho River and Te Henui Stream. Excluding these two sites, 94% of all samples met the guidelines”

To see the latest results, select ‘Freshwater’ or ‘Coastal’ water quality from the ‘Environmental Data” drop-down list on the Council’s home page,

The Taranaki Regional Council’s water quality monitoring data is also available on the national environmental monitoring website Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (, alongside data from other regions.

District councils inform the public of the current health status at individual swimming spots according to national guidelines and the results of the Taranaki Regional Council’s monitoring. The district councils list the status of popular swimming spots on their websites and use signs at each swimming spot to advise people if it’s currently safe to swim.

Mr Bedford says regardless of the latest monitoring results, any swimming spot or beach can be unsuitable for swimming sometimes. He strongly advises people not to swim for at least three days after heavy or prolonged rainfall.

“The main thing is to use your common sense at all times,” he says. “If there hasn’t been significant rain for a while, the water looks inviting and it’s the sort of day that makes you feel like going for a swim, then it’s probably okay.”


- Taranaki Regional Council