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A splash of summer . . . The Hurunui River at the State Highway Seven site near Balmoral Reserve. An existing swimming hole is being enhanced to cater for visitors and campers. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Two new swimming holes will provide plenty of summer fun in the Hurunui district, with the first completed at the Balmoral Recreation Reserve, north of the Hurunui River SH7 bridge.

The Environment Canterbury-funded Hurunui Splash project aims to provide improved recreational opportunities for residents and tourists over the summer months.

North Canterbury zone delivery lead Marco Cataloni says the Balmoral site is ideal as it is already used as a camping site and has had a swimming hole in the past.

“We’re re-establishing and enhancing the swimming hole by digging out the area and making it deeper to allow more water to flow through. It will be a perfect spot for locals and tourists to enjoy a picnic and have a swim.

“The site is used by many tourists and locals for camping over the summer months, so it seemed to be the perfect spot for a swimming hole.”

Marco says a black-backed gull control programme has been carried out over recent months to improve water quality and protect native braided river birds after high E. coli levels were recorded upstream and downstream of the site over recent years.

“The results showed that the E. coli was from an avian source and with thousands of black-backed gulls nesting along the river and preying on rare braided river chicks we had to control the population to improve both biodiversity and water quality.”
People should check www.lawa.org.nz/swim for the latest information on swimming sites.

The second site is located at the Waiau River and Marco says this spot is perfect for families with younger children. The swimming hole should be ready by the end of January.

“There’s a small braid on the township side of the river which we’re going to open up so that it has a reliable flow of water. We’ll also have some shallow pools for younger children to enjoy so it will be a good choice for families.”

Two further swimming sites will be developed in Hurunui in the New Year.

The Riverside Reserve Swimming hole at the Waiau River will be ready early in the new year.