NZ rivers too cold for Kiwis

Most kiwis say they don't swim because it's too cold. File photo.

Evidence in a new survey released today by the Swim Fresh campaign, has revealed New Zealanders have gone soft.

The Horizon poll in December of 1100 New Zealanders found that while we spend a lot of time by fresh water, few of us swim in them.

More than 79 per cent of respondents reported having visited rivers and lakes at least once in the past year. But 62 per cent of respondents say they had not even swum once in fresh water.

Swim Fresh campaign boss Mark Blackham says it was heartening to see so many New Zealanders enjoyed at least one visit to a stream each year.

“If you really care about rivers, challenge yourself to a bracing swim this summer.

One third of those who visited over the previous year went more than once a month, and another third once every two months. The other third went fewer than five times in the previous year.

The small number of swimmers is an intriguing discovery, given the considerable attention given to the issue of “swimmable” water quality.

The most cited reason for not swimming is that the water is too cold (32 per cent), followed by concern about water quality (29 per cent). Yet another 24 per cent of Kiwis say swimming in rivers is not even a thing they consider.

On a positive note, the more often Kiwis visit waterways, the more likely they are to swim (about 3 swims for every 10 visits). Yet those who visit waterways are also more likely to cite concern about quality as a reason for not swimming.

“What we see in the data is that the more often you visit our fresh waterways, the more you care about them, and the more likely you are to go for a swim.”

Swim Fresh is a not for profit campaign proudly conceived, organised and funded by BlacklandPR; staffed by students at Massey University Wellington School of Communication, Journalism, and Marketing; and aided by Eighty One and Loop.

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