The West Coast has many waterbodies that are popular for contact recreation – rivers, lakes, beaches and estuaries.
Contact recreation sites at West Coast lakes are often the most suitable for swimming. Coastal beach sites are usually good as well. River sites tend to exceed bathing water quality guidelines the most. Rivers are affected by run-off, generated by rain events, which transport pathogen indicator bacteria from land to water. Health risks for swimmers are normally higher during and after rain events. The West Coast has a wet climate so rain events are common. The West Coast Regional Council recommends people avoid swimming after heavy rain due to the increased risk of contamination and associated pathogen risk.
The West Coast Regional Council carries out regular sampling for faecal indicator bacteria (E.coli or Enterrococci) at popular contact recreation sites over the summer period, from the beginning of November through to the end of March. Sampling is currently undertaken at 18 locations, twice per month.
Some of the most notable recreation sites on the West Coast include Lake Brunner, Lake Mahinapua, and Nelson Creek. These locations all have camping sites and toilet facilities available with a number of scenic walks nearby.