Is it safe to swim?

Before heading out to enjoy the water please check metservice weather and be prepared.

With the weather warming up, it’s nearly time for a dip at your favourite beach or river swimming hole.

But if there’s been a downpour, Greater Wellington Regional Council advises people to wait for at least 48 hours after heavy rain before taking a dip.

“It pays to be careful for the first two days after heavy rain as the rainfall can wash contaminants from agricultural and urban areas into our waterways and coasts,” Greater Wellington Environmental Monitoring and Investigations Manager Ted Taylor.

During the bathing season (from mid November to the end of March) Greater Wellington, local councils and Regional Public Health, work together to monitor water quality at 21 river and 74 beach sites across the Wellington region.

See the Greater Wellington’s website for up to date information.

River users should also keep an eye out for potentially toxic blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), which may be prevalent during low river flows and warm temperatures. Blue green algae can be fatal to dogs and livestock if eaten, and can make humans sick. Algal cover is assessed weekly during summer at 21 popular river spots throughout the region.

Greater Wellington’s Environmental Monitoring and Investigations Team, in association with Regional Public Health and local councils, uses a two-tiered warning sign system to advise river users of the risk from toxic algae.

A medium risk sign means users can still swim or walk their dogs but should keep an eye out for algal mats. A high risk sign means people should avoid contact recreation and dog walking in that part of the river.

The warning system is based on river bed coverage and algal mat exposure and follows the interim NZ Guidelines for Cyanobacteria in Recreational Fresh Waters.

More information about toxic algae, including pictures and current warnings, can be found at If you see any exposed or easily accessible algal mats, contact Greater Wellington, (04) 384 5708 or your local council’s environmental health officer.

Matt Velde, Senior Communications Adviser
Greater Wellington Regional Council
142 Wakefield St
PO Box 11646
Manners St
Wellington 6142
T: 04 830 4270
M: 027 246 7691

Enjoy your time at the beach.

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