Here are the best spots to swim in South Canterbury
When you’re heading to the beach, local river or lake to swim this summer, don’t forget to look out for water quality information signs.
These will tell you if there’s a health alert in place or whether to avoid swimming if it’s been raining in the past two days.
Regular monitoring for bacteria and toxic algae
Each summer, starting in mid-November, key recreational sites around South Canterbury will be monitored weekly by us to check for bacteria or cyanobacteria (toxic algae) that might be harmful.
If the results show the water is unsuitable for recreation, Community and Public Health will issue health alerts and warning signs will be erected.
It’s also important to avoid swimming for 48 hours after there has been rainfall. This is because rain can wash bacteria from roads, paddocks and other sources into the waterway.
You can find out the latest information about water quality and cyanobacteria risks for any monitored site in the country at the Land and Water Aotearoa website.
Key swimming spots in South Canterbury
Here’s an update on the key swimming spots at the start of the 2020/21 season, based on our annual recreational grading (PDF File, 8.45MB). This considers the past three years of summer-time water monitoring data to inform a grade that gives an indication of overall risk to health.
Only two sites in South Canterbury have been graded as unsuitable for swimming this year, with the remaining 29 sites graded as very good, good or fair.
Once summer-time water monitoring is underway you can see the most up-to-date results at lawa.org.nz.
- Caroline Bay has good water quality for swimming near the yacht club and in the middle of the beach.
- It’s best to avoid swimming near the stormwater outlet ‘Whale Creek,’ especially up to 48 hours after rainfall.
- The Waihi River at the Wilson Street Footbridge spot in Geraldine has been graded as poor this year and should be avoided. The Waihi Gorge location is good for swimming.
- Pareora River at the Huts settlement is safe for swimming, after being graded as poor last year. Evan’s Crossing on the Pareora River is suitable for swimming. Both sites should be avoided for 48 hours after moderate rainfall or when there is any discolouration of the water.
- Sites at Otaio River Gorge, Opihi River at Saleyards Bridge and Waipopo Huts, are all suitable for swimming.
- All other monitored river sites in South Canterbury are suitable for swimming except for the Black Hole on the Waihao River.
- If you’re heading up to the lakes, there is very good water quality at Lake Opuha – Recreation Reserve and Lake Tekapo Beach.
- All other sites are also recommended as suitable for swimming.
Swimming grades for 2020/21 summer
|Timaru District||2020/21 Grade (*except for 48 hours after rainfall)|
|Hae Hae Te Moana River at Gorge||Good*|
|Opihi River at Saleyards Bridge||Good*|
|Opihi River at SH1||Good|
|Opihi River at Waipopo Huts||Good*|
|Orari River at Gorge||Good*|
|Pareora River at Evans Crossing||Fair*|
|Pareora River at Huts||Fair*|
|Temuka River at SH1||Fair*|
|Waihi River at Gorge||Good*|
|Waihi River at Wilson Street footbridge||Poor|
|Caroline Bay mid beach||Good*|
|Timaru Coast Yacht Club||Very Good|
|West Caroline Bay||Fair*|
|Lake Alexandrina at both huts||Good|
|Lake Opuha at Ewarts Corner Boatramp||Fair|
|Lake Opuha at Recreation Reserve||Very Good|
|Lake Ruataniwha at camping ground||Fair|
|Lake Tekapo Beach||Very Good|
|Opihi River at SH79, Fairlie||Insufficient data|
|Twizel River at Picnic area||Fair*|
|Hakataramea River at SH82||Good*|
|Lake Aviemore at Te Akatarawa Camp||Good|
|Lake Aviemore at Waitangi||Good|
|Otaio River at Gorge||Good*|
|Waihao River at Black Hole||Very Poor|
|Waihao River at Bradshaws Bridge||Good*|
|Waihao River at Gum Tree Flat Road (Don's Hole)||Fair*|
|Lake Aviemore on Loch Laird||Fair|
|Lake Benmore at Pumpkin Bay||Good|
|Lake Benmore at Sailors Cutting||Good|
|Lake Middleton at north end of lake||Fair|