Topic: Environment

Swimmers take to Rere Rockslide despite health warnings

By Talisa Kupenga
  • North Island: East Coast

The Rere Rockslide near Gisborne is marked as a health risk, with water tests revealing high levels of E-Coli. But the warnings did not deter swimmers still keen to take a New Year's dip.

Daredevils take to the water despite warnings not to swim.

Local Olive Lewis says, "We were happy to come because we spoke with some of the farmers up here who look after the area and we were told it's fine." 

Miah Nikora says It's the first time he's been here in about 15-years.
"The kids and the people here are having an awesome time. I have heard the water quality isn't that good at the moment but from what I've seen so far it hasn't been too bad, hopefully, the rain helped wash a bit of it away."

Local Marie Malone says, "because RnV has just finished they say it's going to become really packed right through the falls, the rockslide, and the Champagne Springs I don't think it's going to deter them, it hasn't deterred us."

Gisborne District Council water tests put Rere rockslide E-coli levels at 10,000 parts per 100mls of water. The acceptable level for swimming is below 260. Rere falls, two-kilometers down the road, is also a no-go zone with a reading of 4300 parts E-coli per 100mls of water.

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon says, "People have never been worried about swimming there. But we need to keep working towards improving the water quality and planting riparian areas there. But despite a code red or code green people still keep swimming there because they enjoy it." 

The water was tested here just before Christmas, the E-coli level is 38 times higher than the acceptable standard for swimming. But water quality was not the only issue, locals and council say the influx of visitors leaving rubbish and popped tubes behind is really disappointing.

Council says funding expected early this year will expand its water quality programme which, in collaboration with all farmers in the area, will help mitigate E-coli levels in the waterways.