Many of New Zealand's recreational bathing sites unsafe to swim at on at least one occasion

The 2023 update for the surveillance report on ‘Faecal indicator bacteria at recreational bathing sites’ has just been published.

The key findings were:

  • The Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, and Southland regions had the highest proportion of unsafe freshwater bathing sites, with 100% of their sites receiving ‘poor’ grades. The Taranaki region had the highest rate of unsafe beaches, with 67% of all beaches being graded ‘poor’.
  • Based on monitoring undertaken between 2018–23, 51.2% of freshwater bathing sites (rivers and lakes) and 6.8% of marine bathing sites (beaches) could be considered unsafe for swimming at any time.
  • During the 2022/23 bathing season, 82.3% of monitored river swimming sites, 60.0% of beach sites and 47.5% of lake sites were unsafe to swim at on at least one occasion.
  • In the 2022/23 bathing season, 32.5% of monitored river swimming sites, 7.3% of beach sites and 1.7% of lake sites were frequently unsuitable for swimming, with 20.0% or more of routine monitoring results showing they were unsafe to swim.


The surveillance report can be found here.