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Pohangina River at Tōtara Reserve

This popular swimming and camping spot is found nestled in the Pohangina Valley about 50 minutes drive from Palmerston North. To get there head north to Ashhurst and then carry on up Pohangina Road for about 30 minutes to Tōtara Reserve.

We recommend using the swimming hole at the Kererū campground. Unstable cliffs at the Kahikatea campground make this spot unsuitable for swimming and we strongly discourage users from swimming here.

The swimming spot is located within the Tōtara Reserve Regional Park which is one of the best examples of the ancient forest that once covered the area. Tōtara Reserve has some fantastic facilities including toilets/showers, barbeques, children's playground and bushwalks. There are also powered camp sites for those wishing to holiday at the site. 

Water quality is generally very high, however rainfall events can cause runoff from farmland upstream of Tōtara Reserve causing short term drops in water quality. As such it is recommended to avoid contact recreation during and immediately after rainfall events until the water is clear. 

This beach grading is an interim grading based on four years (100 data points) of monitoring at this swimming spot site. There is a strong relationship between recent rain and elevated E. coli concentrations. This means swimmer health-risk can be reliably predicted. There are no known point source discharges directly affecting the site. The Pohangina River upstream of Tōtara Reserve drains many small streams that begin in the Ruahine Ranges before traveling through farmland. The are often left unfenced and with limited riparian planting meaning stock access and run off can negatively impact upon water quality.

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