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Swimming and Boating

With its considerable coastline and many rivers Marlborough offers numerous river and sea swimming spots. Marlborough District Council monitors the water quality at the more popular swimming locations, and provides three public swimming pools in Blenheim, Picton and Seddon.

In this section:

Please note: All recreational boaties MUST carry life jackets in Marlborough waters.

Anyone in charge of a recreational vessel should expect to be prosecuted and fined $200 if they’re found without the life jackets required for those on board.

See more information on the requirements to carry life jackets 

Vessel identification requirements have been in place since 2010. Boats must display a name, or similiar identifying marks, visible on both sides of the vessel from a distance of 50 metres.

For more boating information see the following pages on this website:

Related sections:

Swimming Water Quality

Using the guidelines set out by the Ministry for the Environment, Marlborough District Council has graded each of Marlborough's swimming beaches and rivers. This allows for increased public awareness with regard to health issues when swimming at various popular locations.

Beach Grades

Swimming at Whites Bay.The beach/river grade takes into consideration factors such as agricultural use in the catchment, annual rainfall figures, water uses (marina, boat moorings etc.) and human activity. It couples this information with the water quality data of that particular area from the past five years, which identifies the level of Enterococci (marine) or Escherichia coli bacteria (freshwater) in the water.

Weekly Monitoring

Water samples are taken at 12 coastal sites and 9 river sites during the summer months (November - March inclusive) and assessed against the Ministry for the Environment recreational water quality guidelines. These guidelines assess the level of risk of contracting illness/infection from coming into contact with the water. Results can vary from week to week so it is important to check the most recent water quality results. For the latest water quality results see:

  • Monitored water quality and locations for Marlborough's popular swimming spots

Swimming Pools

  • Aquatic Centre
    The Aquatic Centre has two heated indoor pools, a 25 m training and activity pool and a learner's pool. It also has a 50 m outdoor pool that is open from December to March.
  • Picton Community Pool
    The Picton pool is located at Queen Charlotte College and is accessed from the northern end of Hampden Street, Picton.
  • Awatere Community Pool
    The Awatere pool is operated by the Awatere Settlers' Association and is located at the Seddon Domain on Foster Street, Seddon. 
    Due to earthquake damage the Awatere Community Pool is closed until further notice. For further information phone Awatere Info office on Ph: 03 520 7400.


Kayaks on Shelly Beach.The Marlborough Sounds are recognised worldwide as an area of immense natural beauty and unspoiled environment, and attract large numbers of pleasure boats. Marinas at Waikawa Bay, Picton and Havelock offer both permanent and casual berthage and other facilities. All marinas are operated by Port Marlborough New Zealand Limited who can be contacted on 03 520 3399. 

For more information see:

Being Safe on the Water

The Marlborough Sounds Safe Boating Brochure provides information to help you have an enjoyable and safe time on the water. Copies of the brochure are also available from the Marlborough District Council Customer Service Centres in Blenheim or Picton, as well as from the Waikawa, Picton and Havelock marinas.

PDF DocumentMarlborough Sounds Safe Boating Brochure (1.5 Mb)

For more information see: 

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