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Taranaki region

River Quality

The Taranaki region, with its distinctive Mount Taranaki and black sand beaches, lies on the west coast of the North Island. The land area of 7,200 square kilometres represents 3% of New Zealand and its growing population of around 110,00 is approximately 2.5% of the country’s population.

Taranaki’s generally high-quality environment and strong economy, based on the region’s natural and physical resources, contribute to its attractive lifestyle.

The main landforms are the volcanic ring plain centred on Mount Taranaki, the hill country to the east of the ring plain, the coastal terraces and the coastal and marine environment. About 60% of the region is used for intensive farming, predominantly dairying.

There are around 530 named rivers and streams in the region. More than 300 waterways flow across the ring plain from Mount Taranaki and are typically short, small and fast-flowing.

The region’s communities, industries and farmers continue to make major investments to protect and enhance Taranaki’s freshwater resources. The last single-point discharge causing substantial freshwater pollution in Taranaki was removed in 2010. There is a move to land-based disposal of farm dairy effluent as existing consents are renewed. And almost 14,500 kilometres of streambanks are covered by riparian plans, with 85% protected by fencing and 70% with riparian vegetation, at June 2017.

The Taranaki Regional Council measures up to 22 parameters at 13 river and stream sites to assess physical and chemical water quality. Ecological health is measured at 59 sites on 25 rivers and streams. And recreational water quality is measured at 17 popular swimming spots over a three-year cycle. Wildfowl and gulls are the major source of contamination at the three sites that often exceed bathing water guidelines.

Generally, water quality is poorest in lowland urban catchments, better in lowland rural catchments and best in upland forested catchments. In overview, however, the Council’s monitoring shows that water quality measures are either essentially stable or improving, and an ever-increasing number are improving.

TRC conducts flow-adjusted water quality trend analysis based on NIWA protocols and guidelines (following Scarsbrook and McBride 2007). This information is available at