10 Best NZ Swimming Holes
This is our list of the best swimming holes that you can visit when New Zealand’s summer is in full swing (or beat the rush and go on a hot day at the end of spring). Our list is compiled using five South Island swimming holes and five North Island water holes.
With this guide we have given you places to swim that are usually popular, safe and clean. However, water speed and quality are constantly changing. If you aren’t sure please check the Can I swim here? page on the Land Air Water Aotearoa website to see what swimming sites have been classified as suitable for swimming, caution advised and unsuitable for swimming. Remember to always check the water colour and current before swimming. If you are unsure about swimming for any reason, please stay out of the water. Check the weather and stay clear of rivers if heavy rain or storms are forecast.
Cleopatra’s Pool, Abel Tasman National Park
This rock pool comes complete with its own natural moss-lined waterslide. Bathe in clear water and take a day-trip in Abel Tasman Park, the pool is just an hour walk from Anchorage and Torrent Bay campsites. Cleopatra’s bay is far away from main roads and city noise, you will have to take a boat and walk to get there but once you are there it’s all worthwhile. It’s the perfect way to cool off after a day of walking the main track.
Matai River, Nelson
There are several swimming holes to visit along this stretch of water so we couldn’t just name one. Go for a trip along Matai valley road and stop-off at one of the following; Black hole, Dennes hole or Sunday hole. We recommend a visit to the centre of New Zealand monument on a hot summers day and a cool-off in one of these popular swimming holes once you’ve made it down!
Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve, Marlborough
This was a filming location for the film Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug and as you float down the river you may notice some of the rocks from the barrel float scene in the film. Here you can also see flat river forest and a variety of birds, both native and introduced. The water here is high quality, so you will be sharing the clear water with native plants and animals, as well as introduced trout. By the bridge there are plenty of rocks to jump off, drift down and find a place to yourself, or walk through the forest along the riverbank and amongst the totara trees to find a spot to relax. The reserve is located midway between Blenheim and Nelson, on SH6, 18 km west of Havelock.
Blue Pools, Wanaka
Freezing cold and completely see-through azure water make this a must-see spot in New Zealand. The walking track starts off State Highway 6, near Makarora, and you will know when you have reached the pools 30 minutes later when you reach the second small swing bridge (there are two, cross the first and two minutes later you will reach the second that hangs over the blue pools). The one-hour return trip is best enjoyed in summer when you can swim in the icy-cold water and marvel at the view in all its reflective blue glory.
The Eel Hole, Tasman
Don’t be off-put by the name, as during the day you won’t be bumping into any eels here. Located one kilometre north of Murchison township, this is the place to be in the hot summer days, when temperatures in the small town can get into the 30 degrees Celsius range. The Buller River is the perfect place to cool off. There are rocks to jump off into the deep areas and a rope swing, just be sure to be out before dark when the eels come out of hding!
Rainbow Falls (Waianiwaniwa), Kerikeri
This is an easy walk located close to town. Park at the Rainbow Falls carpark and make your way to the viewing platforms to admire the falls in all their glory. At the bottom of the falls is the swimming hole. Come here on a hot, clear day to fully appreciate the view as the misty falls create the rainbows that gave this location its name. If these falls are too crowded, continue along the Kerikeri River track to the Wharepuku Falls, where you can also swim.
Pori Pori Water Holes, Tauranga
A short 15-minute drive from Tauranga, just off State Highway 29, you will find the Pori Pori Water Holes. There are many waterholes that form in the rock formations that sit along the Wairoa River, some are bath sized holes, and there are other larger holes for stronger swimmers to enjoy. If the water holes are busy, or if you need to do more exploring then the Mclaren Falls Park is just around the corner! This is also a great place for a picnic. Make sure to listen for the alarm and read the signs when visiting on some Sunday's (from September to May), as the water levels rise when Trustpower releases the Ruahihi Power station dam.
Rere Rockslide, Gisborne
Known first for its waterfall, now famous for its 60-metre long natural waterslide into a fresh water swimming hole. The perfect summers day can be spent sliding down this incredible smooth rockface on whatever you can find – air mattresses, boogie boards, inflatable pool toys, rafts, tubes and more!
Kerosene Creek, Rotorua
If you aren’t into cold water or the day is cloudy and you are trying to warm up, then Kerosene Creek is the place to go! Have a swim in the natural warm and calm of this forest stream, 35km away from Rotorua. If its busy its worth going for a short walk down the river to find a place for yourself.
Mosquito Point, Whanganui
Another misleading name for a great water hole. While the rope swing has been removed, this is still the best place to come if you are close to Whanganui town centre and want to take a dip in summer or start a kayak journey down the Whanganui River.
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