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About our monitoring

What is the Recreational Swimming Water Quality Programme?

The Northland Regional Council, in conjunction with district councils and the Northland District Health Board, sample a number of Northland’s popular swimming spots each summer to check that the water is suitable for swimming.


When does the monitoring season start?

The recreational bathing programme for 2021-2022 will commence 6 December 2021 and end 7 March 2022. The programme will include sampling from 41 coastal and 17 freshwater sites.

Results will be published weekly on the LAWA website


General swimming water quality in Northland

In general, water quality is suitable for swimming at most of our open coastal beaches because of dilution and tidal flushing. However, bacterial levels can be elevated at coastal sites located close to river mouths, or spots in many of Northland’s rivers and lakes, particularly after heavy rain, due to runoff of contaminants from surrounding land.  Some sites in Northland show consistently high contamination levels, such as Kerikeri River at Stone Store and Hatea River at Whangārei Falls, meaning they are not suitable for swimming at any time.


Weekly monitoring results

The weekly results are available during the monitoring season on the LAWA website

Find the monitoring results for previous seasons



Water can be contaminated and unsuitable for recreational use if:

  • There is a warning sign erected indicating water is unsuitable for swimming;
  •  There has been recent heavy rain;
  •  The water looks dirty (murky);
  •  There are potential sources of contamination nearby or upstream, such as houses on septic tanks, stock with access to the water or a sewage treatment plant.