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Published 29/03/2019

Swimmers urged to keep out of water in the inner Wellington harbour

Update 1/4/19

We’re still dealing with a contamination issue in the Wellington Harbour (Taranaki Wharf), and while currently harbour water quality tests show the water is within swimmable limits, we advise caution. 

Due to the wet weather today, we also advise people to avoid swimming for 48 hours after heavy rain. This is to ensure the safety of the public, as extra pressure on the stormwater network can lead to overflow events and other contamination.

Test results do not reflect the current state of the water in this area as results can take up to two days to process. Due to this, it is best to remain out of the water until it is advised that it is safe for swimming. The Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Is it Safe to Swim? Map is the best guide to check if your favourite swimming spots are safe for recreational activity.


Recent testing of the stormwater near Taranaki Wharf has shown very high levels of faecal coliforms (bacteria that indicate there is sewage contamination). This has made the water unsafe for recreational use such as swimming and jumping from the diving boards in the area.

We warn the public against swimming or entering the water in the inner harbour – particularly in the Taranaki Street Wharf area between Whairepo Lagoon and the waterfront area around Shed 6 - due to the presence of raw sewage.

The source of the contamination appears to be illegal connections between sewage and stormwater pipes, leading to potential contamination of harbour water near the stormwater outlet. We are continuing to investigate and support action to fix identified problems.

Swimming or entering water with potential sewage contamination can lead to symptoms such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or infections of the eyes, ears, nose and throat.  If you have any health concerns following contact with the water in this area then contact your doctor or Healthline 0800 611 116.

Warning signs have been posted in the area and Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Is it Safe to Swim? Map has been updated to reinforce the warning, which will remain in place until testing shows that water quality has returned to safe levels.

We will keep you updated via social media and on our website.

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