Love Our Lakes: One Poo Can Close the Lake!

One poo can close the lake.

When visiting our lakes it’s important to use the public toilets provided to protect the waterways from pollution.

Bacteria and other pathogens from poo can make swimmers very sick and affect mahinga kai food gathering and the māuri (life force) of the water.

If bacteria levels reach the level for health warning, the recreation area may be closed, which can affect thousands of holiday-makers.

What you can do to keep our lakes clean and poo-free this summer:

Other ways you can Love our Lakes this summer.



Boating about? Don't get caught out!

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Boating about, don’t get caught out

If you’re boating or kayaking on the lakes this summer, remember to plan ahead to use the toilets.

Tips for when you’re at the lake:

  • Remember to use the toilets provided prior to heading out on the lake.
  • Take note of where the toilets are this summer, some are temporary facilities that have been installed to help meet demand.
  • Be flexible with your plans – when nature calls, travel to your nearest toilet rather than your nearest bush.

If you’re at Lake Ruataniwha, here’s a map of the public toilets (JPG, 549 KB)



Poo in the loo.

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Poo in a loo

It may sound like obvious advice, but it’s really important that we all use the public toilets provided in the Upper Waitaki area.

Tips for when out and about:

  • Plan your day to include toilet breaks so no one is caught short.
  • Know where the closest toilets are. Local councils have this information or you can look at an app like CamperMate or Rankers.
  • Just like the school teachers used to remind us – go to the toilet before heading out!
  • If you need to poo but there's no toilet, it's best to hold on until the next loo. However, if you can't wait then ensure you are far away from water (at least 50 m) and ensure any waste is properly buried – or carry it out in a compostable bag to dispose of in the next appropriate toilet (long drop only – not flush toilets). Check out the Department of Conservation’s tips and video on being prepared when there isn't a loo.  


Swim nappies for nippers.

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Swim nappies for nippers

A lake might be large, but its swimming areas are just like swimming pools – it only takes a small amount of poo to contaminate the area – like a toddler not making it to the toilet on time!

Lake swimming areas are calmer, warmer and more shallow than other parts of a lake and it can take some time for any contaminated water to clear.

That’s why it’s important for any babies or non-toilet trained toddlers to wear a swim nappy when they are in the water.

Tips for looking after babies and toddlers in and near our lakes:

  • If you like the idea of reusable swim nappies, they are now widely available online and in baby-related stores.
  • For older toddlers, don’t forget to plan toilet breaks (or bring a potty and dispose of waste properly in a public toilet).
  • All rubbish, including dirty nappies, should either be taken home or disposed of in rubbish bins.


Scoop-up the poop.

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Scoop up the poop

If you’re taking your family dog to the lakes this year, remember that just a small amount of dog poo in or near water can lead to contamination.

Respect our lakeside environment and clean up after your dog, just as you would in a town or city.  Always carry disposal poo bags (biodegradable ones are great) and then make sure the waste goes in the correct rubbish bin.

More information

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