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New Zealand has over 17,000 km of coastline providing great beaches to swim, surf and play at.  Coastal water quality is directly impacted by what happens on land. Too much bacteria in the water can make it unsafe for swimming. LAWA displays the results of water quality monitoring at popular beaches, so you know which beaches are safe for swimming, surfing and other recreational activities.


Click on your region to view water quality results for beaches that are monitored in your area, or click on the National Picture tab for a national view on New Zealand's marine environment.

National reporting

The Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand provide a national picture of the environment in regular reports produced under the Environmental Reporting Act 2015. Below is the overview of the marine domain from the Our Marine Environment 2016 report.

Marine domain at a glance

New Zealand has one of the most diverse marine environments in the world, because it encompasses subantarctic and subtropical waters. Our oceans support a wide range of habitats and sea life. Commercial harvesting is managed to ensure the sustainability of fisheries, but fishing methods that are damaging to the marine environment and bycatch (when an animal is caught unintentionally in fishing gear) are ongoing pressures on marine animals. The condition of our marine environment affects its productivity, as well as its ability to support marine life. Our marine environment is also important to New Zealanders from a recreational perspective, and for Māori, for whom it has long been a source of food and other resources.

Key findings:

  •  Global greenhouse gas emissions are causing ocean acidification and warming. Ocean acidification may cause widespread harm to New Zealand’s marine ecosystems, particularly to marine organisms with carbonate shells like pāua, mussels, and oysters. Ocean warming may affect ocean currents, modify habitats, and expand or reduce the areas where marine species are found, and is a primary cause of rising sea levels. Ocean acidification and warming will continue for generations. Most of our marine bird species are threatened with or at risk of extinction, including species of albatrosses, penguins, and herons. More than one-quarter of our marine mammal species are threatened with extinction, including the New Zealand sea lion and species of dolphins and whales.

  • Coastal marine habitats and ecosystems are degraded. Pressures from human activities interact in complex ways to degrade coastal habitats and ecosystems, and impacts can accumulate over decades. The degradation of coastal habitats undermines their functions in the wider ocean ecosystem and compromises Māori values, commercial activities, and New Zealanders’ recreational enjoyment of coastlines and beaches.

  • The full ecological impacts of fishing are not clear. Fishing is a highly valued economic, cultural, and recreational activity and one of the most important issues where data is limited.