We’re making Kaiate Falls swimmable again by improving water quality throughout the Waitao catchment.

Kaiate Falls is a popular swimming area in the Waitao catchment. The Kaiate Stream is a tributary of the Waitao Stream, which discharges into Rangataua Bay in the southeast of Tauranga Harbour. The Kaiate Stream is a focus for investigation because summer monitoring has identified persistently elevated Faecal Indicator Bacteria numbers, and a permanent health warning is in place to prohibit swimming.

Landowners within the Waitao catchment are aware of the water quality issues present and are actively engaged in taking the necessary steps to remedy them.
The local community , hapū and other key stakeholders feel informed and empowered to contribute in meaningful ways.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council have been working with local landowners and technical experts to identify and address sources of water contamination in the Kaiate Falls catchment for the past decade. This has involved collaboration with Ngā Whenua Rāhui, Western Bay of Plenty District Council and local landowners to erect fencing and plant vegetation near the waterways to improve water quality and wildlife habitats. Approximately 60 percent of the main stem rivers in the catchment are now fenced.

The Waitao Landcare Group actively work to protect waterway margins, and with support from the Regional Council have held field days to help educate the local community, provided plants, held planting days, and helped landowners with fencing.

When the permanent health warning was issued in 2015, BOPRC started research to better understand the source of contaminants, and to inform options to address the issue. This research has indicated that the main types of bacteria found are from ruminants (cows, sheep, deer or goats) with an avian (bird) influence at several locations, probably from birds that nest and feed above the Falls.

Bacteria are coming into the stream from a number of different tributaries, including one with extensive forest cover, in an unpredictable manner.

Water quality indicators such as temperature, nitrate and ammonia levels in Kaiate Stream are good compared to recommended guidelines and indicate a healthy ecosystem. Summer swimming water monitoring showed improving trends in E.coli bacteria levels from 2007 until the 2014-15 summer.

However unsafe levels of E.coli bacteria have been regularly recorded each summer since then. The Kaiate Stream is not swimmable by national guidelines because of high E. coli bacteria levels. Swimming in water with high levels of E.coli bacteria can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, skin, eye and ear infections.

More information

NIWA report on last summer’s results 

Weekly bathing results

The Kaiate Stream is unsafe for swimming most of the time, but LAWA shows which other water bodies in the Bay of Plenty are safe to swim in

Live data of the stream flow in Kaiate

Plan for our catchment monitoring this summer

Snapshot of catchment 

Updated snapshot based on the NIWA report

QMRA study (once released by MfE)

Tangata Whenua work

Kaiate Falls

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03 Dec 2019


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