Where to swim
Choose a great spot to swim: See the latest results on our online map
Check out swimming spots from around the country: See the latest results on LAWA
Download our factsheet: Where to swim and collect shellfish
We are lucky enough to have some wonderful spots in Southland to swim. But we all need to be aware of the bacteria which affect water quality and can make us sick.
Southlanders have helped to identify popular recreational spots that Environment Southland monitors for the indicators of harmful bacteria. Our monitoring sites are located at:
- 13 beaches (includes four estuary sites)
- 8 rivers
At the four estuary sites we test for both E. coli and enterococci.
What are we testing for?
To find out if the water at swimming spots could make you sick, we test water for indicator bacteria. Although they may not make you sick themselves, these bacteria tend to indicate the presence of other disease-causing pathogens (such as viruses and protozoa).
We don't test for the pathogens themselves as this is expensive and generally takes a lot longer. The bacteria we are looking out for in freshwater are E. coli and faecal coliforms. At marine sites we are looking out for enterococci.
Environment Southland uses two ways of assessing the water quality at popular swimming sites. These are:
- Weekly monitoring of water quality over summer (the latest results are shown in our online map);
- Incorporating long-term water data and other risks to give an overall Suitability for Recreation Grading.
During summer months (December through to the end of March) we update our results from monitoring at swimming spots every week. Use our map to find out the latest water quality results and make sure to check out current information about toxic algae before you go swimming.
Harmful bacteria gets into our waterways through human and animal waste. This can be from sewage, septic tank discharge, farming run-off, industrial pollution and boats. The main risk swimming in or swallowing water where there are high bacterial levels is gastroenteritis, but infections of ears, eyes, skin and the respiratory tract can also occur.
Testing is carried out so we can measure bacteria against National Guidelines. Our water quality testing only covers these bacteria, not metals, other toxicants or viruses.