New Zealanders care about the quality of their waters. We want to swim and collect kai moana at our beaches and rivers without the risk of getting sick. Thousands of us use our beaches and rivers to swim, surf, sail, and collect kai moana, and we highly value the ability to do this.

The Microbiological Water Quality Guidelines for Marine and Freshwater Recreational Areas incorporate a risk-based approach to monitoring water quality promoted by the World Health Organization. The guidelines will provide councils with the information they need to monitor the state of their waters.

These guidelines are the result of a wide consultative effort. Extensive consultation with regional councils, territorial local authorities and public health agencies since the release of the 1999 guidelines resulted in the formation of a working group. The Ministry for the Environment and Ministry of Health have been working with this group over the 2000–03 period to develop guidance on public health monitoring and reporting, and state of the environment monitoring and reporting.

We have deliberately formatted the guidelines so they can be easily revised without requiring a complete re-publication of the entire guidelines. If you would like to receive updates of these guidelines, please complete and return the registration form at the back of the folder. You can also download the most up-to-date edition of the guidelines from the publications area of the Ministry for the Environment’s website.

We would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the development of the guidelines and acknowledge that without your input it would not have been possible. We look forward to your continuing contribution in the future.

Barry Carbon
Chief Executive
Ministry for the Environment

Karen O Poutasi (Dr)
Director-General of Health
Ministry of Health


This document has been produced and funded by the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Health. We would like to thank the members of the Marine Bathing Working Group for their contributions to the preparation of this document:

  • Donald Campbell, Healthcare Taranaki
  • Keith Hamill, (formerly) Environment Southland
  • Peter Hamill, Marlborough District Council
  • Sophie Heighway, (formerly) North Shore City Council
  • Andrea Johnson, Canterbury Crown Public Health
  • Erin Kearney, Valley Health
  • Gillian Lewis, Auckland Regional Forum
  • Shaun Lewis, Earth matters
  • Graham McBride, NIWA
  • Adrian Meredith, Environment Canterbury
  • Stephen Palmer, Hutt Valley Health
  • Paul Prendergast, Ministry of Health
  • Graham Sevicke-Jones, Wellington Regional Council
  • Brian Sharman, Metrowater
  • Rennae Shirley, Auckland City Council
  • Brett Stansfield, Hawke's Bay Regional Council
  • Desmond Till, Consultant