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Southland region

Can I swim here?

Southland’s rivers and beaches can be great spots for swimming, kayaking, surfing, fishing and gathering kai moana over the summer months.


Our coastline is the longest of any region in the country, so there are certainly some beautiful beaches and hidden gems to be found. We’re also very lucky to have two national parks on our doorsteps, both home to stunning scenery and popular recreational spots.

Oreti Beach is one of Southland’s most popular beaches. It is just a short walk, bike, or drive from Invercargill and is great for family picnics, swimming or surfing.

Across Southland, Environment Southland monitors bathing water quality at both marine and freshwater bathing sites over summer each year. These results are displayed online and also used to provide an overall grade of a particular swimming spot, which is calculated from five years of data.

Environment Southland’s marine and freshwater scientist Nick Ward says the best swimming spots are usually higher up on the rivers where the water is less affected by towns and intensive farming. “We know that, at times, some sites in Southland have high levels of bacteria, which can make us sick. By paying attention to the recent weather patterns and checking the results on the map, swimmers can make good decisions about where to swim and reduce their risk of getting sick.”

Over summer (December to March), Nick works with Public Health South, iwi and the City and District Councils to inform communities if there is a problem with high bacteria levels.

Monitored sites in the Southland region

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