Use this page to check if it's safe to swim at your local river or beach. Our science team check the water quality at popular swimming spots over summer. You can also find out about the risk of toxic algae.
Our science team regularly check water quality at 37 popular swimming spots over summer so you can make sure it’s safe to swim at your local beach or river. Use the 'Can I swim here' web app below to quickly check you're good to go!
We only show the most popular spots on this app - if your swimming spot doesn't appear, head to LAWA here. You'll also find lots more information about all the spots we check, and if you are heading away you can find other swimming spots throughout New Zealand on the LAWA website.
There is currently an algal bloom present along the shoreline from Westshore to Haumoana. Algal blooms are common to Hawke's Bay after periods of heavy rain and warm temperatures. Most phytoplankton are harmless and are a food source for marine life. However, about 2% of algae species can produce toxins that can be harmful to marine life. While algal blooms typically don’t cause issues to people, they can in rare cases.
Our scientists have sampled the bloom and results indicate it was of low risk. They continue to monitor the bloom as the composition can naturally change over time.
As a precaution, it would be best not to swim or harvest shellfish in an area where an algal bloom is present. This bloom will likely shift around the bay as long as conditions remain favourable.
When we have had heavy rain, it flushes debris and pollution from town and rural land into waterways. This is why we advise you not to swim for 2 – 3 days after heavy rain – even at places that generally have good water quality. Check that the water is clean and clear before taking a dip too. A handy guide is: if you can't see your toes when standing knee-deep in water, then the water quality is not the best for a swim.
Clive River, Waipuka Stream and Puhokio Stream are generally less suitable for swimming and playing in as they sometimes have higher bacteria levels. The Clive River and Puhokio stream are tested every two weeks as they have signs up warning of the health risks at all times. The Regional Council, community groups and landowners are working to improve water quality in these places.
Phormidium is a potentially toxic algae and it can be dangerous to human and dog health. It is naturally found in rivers all year round but can be a risk to humans and dogs during the hotter months of the year. Find out more in our frequesntly asked questons on the right.
We’ve created a dashboard to give you information so you can make the best decision for yourself, your family, and pets.
The District Health Board will put up signs at sites where toxic algae could be a risk to human health. This information is also for dog health. Conditions can change quickly, so for up to date information see the information below.
Toxic algae, sometimes called Phormidium, happens naturally in shallow, stoney rivers, like the Tukituki. It looks like a mat that forms on rocks. It can be black, brown, green, or grey. When the river level drops, the algae can be seen on stones or at the sides of rivers which dry in the sun. Find out more on this webpage.
Yes, dogs love the strong musty smell of toxic algae mats, which is a problem as it interests them to go and find out more. Dogs will often eat the algae if given the chance, and only a small amount can be dangerous. Watch the video on this page to find out more.
|Living toxic algae: Thick dark brown or black mats attached to rocks under water|
|Living toxic algae: Mats floating in shallow waters usually with air bubbles|
Dead toxic algae: Attached or detached from rocks, the mats can be wet or dry and be grey, white, black, or brown
We know that the Tukituki catchment sometimes has high levels of Toxic Algae (Phormidium) during the summer months.
There are signs at areas where there may be more Phormidium during a typical summer. The risk of contact with Phormidium can change in quickly, so it's important for the public to be very careful and look out for the algae. Phormidium is easy to spot, and the signs show images of what to look out for. You can also find more information on this page about what to look out for.
While some of the highest levels of toxic algae have been found in the Tukituki catchment, it can grow in other rivers in the region, so always keep a look out, particularly in stony bottomed rivers.
We have created a risk map below. We know that Phormidium growth happens over the hotter months.
Toxic algae does not always produce toxins, but we advise people and dogs to avoid contact with it anyway. There are 3 ways you, your child or your dog could have contact with toxic algae:
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