Stay safe while enjoying Whanganui’s swim spots this summer

Published on 23 December 2020


Whanganui District Council is reminding people to stay safe while enjoying the water over the summer months.

Community Wellbeing Manager, Lauren Tamehana, says enjoying swimming and water activities is very much a part of Whanganui life. “For generations, summer has meant heading to our favourite swim spots to cool down and have fun,” but she says, “It’s important to understand the risks and use this knowledge well when deciding when and where to swim.”

She says the dangers around the Wharf Street boat ramp are of concern. “This area is generally unsafe for swimming while boats are being launched. Boats are unable to stop suddenly and there is a high risk of serious injury if swimmers become caught in a boat's propeller wash and are struck by a propeller.”

The water level in this part of the Whanganui River changes very dramatically. Hidden logs and other debris drift into the area and can make swimming hazardous - and the wharves themselves should be avoided.

Lauren Tamehana says, “Although the port area is fenced off and has signs clearly warning people not to swim, we are concerned that people may still enter this area under the old wharves, putting themselves at serious risk.”

Closer into the city, it is also very dangerous to be swimming around the vessels on Town Wharf and around the river boats on Taupo Quay. Swimmers are advised to keep clear when vessels are turning or tying up.

Lauren Tamehana says most rowing clubs are okay with swimmers using their pontoons as long as they respect the rowers as they get their boats in and out of the water. “Negotiating swimmers while carrying a heavy boat could result in injury to both swimmer and rower, as well as damage to the boat.”

She says, “We don't actively encourage jumping off the City Bridge into the river. However, if you are going to do this please take care. Check the water for obstacles before you jump. This includes logs and debris as well as rowers and other water craft who use the river frequently during summer. Also take care as you come up onto the bridge as there is a lot of traffic.”

Whanganui has two patrolled beaches – Castlecliff and Kai Iwi (Mowhanau) beaches. Both beaches are patrolled by Wanganui Surf Lifesaving Lifeguards from 12 noon to 6.00pm each day over summer. Swimmers should swim between the flags and listen to the lifeguards, who are there to keep them safe.

A rip current is an outgoing current on a surf beach that can quickly carry swimmers away from the shore. They are a common occurrence on Whanganui's coastline. Swimmers are advised to avoid swimming in or near a rip current. A rip is identified by:

  • discoloured or murky brown water caused by sand stirred up off the bottom
  • a smoother surface with much smaller waves, with waves breaking either side
  • debris floating out to sea
  • a rippled look, when the water around is generally calm.

Lauren Tamehana says, “Whanganui District Council wishes everyone a very safe and happy holiday. Enjoy the water this summer – but please enjoy it safely.”     


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