In the Wellington Region we love to enjoy our coast and waterways, but there are some times and places where caution is needed. 

Go to Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) for live information on water quality and swimming conditions at your favourite spots, as well as the latest alerts.

How to know when it's safe to swim

During the summer swim season, it's important to check if it's safe to swim before you, your family, or your pets get in the water. Sometimes, there can be harmful bacteria or toxic algae in our waterways, which makes the water unsafe to swim in.

Harmful bacteria can end up in rivers, streams and harbours due to storm water and runoff. This can contain waste from animals and land, and sometimes untreated human waste from sewage overflows.

Harmful bacteria is more likely to be an issue after heavy rain. A good rule of thumb is to wait 48 hours after heavy rain before getting in the water, this applies to freshwater and the sea.

Always check the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website to see if it's safe to swim.

If you notice a problem with water quality you can report it on 0800 496 734 at any time.

Our water monitoring

Greater Wellington coordinates water quality sampling at over 80 freshwater and coastal sites in the region during the summer months. This regular sampling, along with real-time data, is used to predict the water quality at specific swimming spots around the Greater Wellington Region.

More information about how we monitor swimming spots.

Toxic Algae

When the weather is hot and dry our rivers can produce toxic algal blooms. We monitor for toxic algae in rivers, and work with local councils across the region to keep you informed. Toxic algae is very harmful to both people and dogs, so learning how to spot it is an important way to stay safe.

We regularly assess water quality and toxic algae at popular rivers and beaches across our region, so please check the LAWA website before you walk your dog or go swimming.

More information about toxic algae.

Should I swim after heavy rain?

Heavy rain flushes contaminants from urban and rural land into waterways, so we advise you to check whether it’s safe for you to swim before getting in the water, even at sites that generally have good water quality.

Check that the water is clean and clear before taking a dip. This can be a significant health risk after heavy rain.

If you notice a problem with water quality call the Environment 24hr Hotline - 0800 496 734.

Get in touch for advice

Phone: 0800496734


Updated December 1, 2023 at 10:35 AM

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