Recreational water quality – is it safe to swim?
Kāpiti has many places that are popular for swimming and other activities. Keeping yourself up to date on our recreational water quality is important.
We work with Greater Wellington Regional Council to regularly monitor our swimming sites. Kāpiti’s water cleanliness is generally safe for swimming and other water-based recreational activities. Water quality results are updated twice daily on Greater Wellington’s interactive map – this is the best way to check if the water quality at your favourite spot is safe for swimming. You can find out more about water quality monitoring from Greater Wellington’s Our monitoring programme.
- check LAWA interactive map for water quality at different sites before you head out
- be aware of any increased risk, particularly for the very young, very old, and other vulnerable groups
- in summer there’s less waterflow and rain to flush rivers, so the risk of poor water quality (and so getting sick) increases
- wait 48 hours after rain before swimming; heavy rain flushes contaminants from urban and rural land into our waterways, making water quality unsafe for swimming
- if you choose to go against this advice and swim after rain, avoid putting your head under, and supervise toddlers to make sure they don’t swallow water
- avoid swimming in streams; we don’t recommend swimming in streams or where streams and rivers come out at the beach, especially during hot summer months
- signs will only be put up if a non-weather-related event results in the water posing an unacceptable health risk from swimming.
For more information, and where and what we monitor for, see Greater Wellington’s Our monitoring programme.
Toxic algae in our rivers are actually not algae at all but cyanobacteria, which are commonly known as blue-green algae. Cyanobacteria are naturally present in all New Zealand waterways. Lots of types of algae and cyanobacteria grow in our waterways so it's important to know which ones are harmful.
During hot, dry weather toxic algae blooms can grow in the Waikanae River and Otaki River, making swimming sites especially dangerous for people and dogs. These blooms last until there is a flushing event due to heavy rain.
How to spot toxic algae
There’s always a risk of harm to your dog if you let it swim or scavenge in the lower reaches of our rivers and streams, because algal blooms and dislodged algal mats can occur along the river at any time.
- Look for black, green or brown slime on rocks, or brown or black "mats" at the river's edge that have a velvety texture and earthy or musty smell.
- If you see toxic algae, be cautious and avoid that river site, particularly if you have a dog.
- Check for alerts on the LAWA website which provides live updates on where it is safe to swim.
- If toxic algae reaches harmful levels for humans in any of our monitored recreational water sites, we’ll release public notifications to let everyone know.
For more information, see Greater Wellington’s Toxic algae.