Freshwater lakes and rivers are not visited by poor, unemployed and uneducated New Zealanders, a poll has found.
A Horizon poll in December of 1100 Kiwis showed that a quarter of people earning less than $50,000 annually had not made a visit to a river or lake in the past year, while 41 percent of unemployed or beneficiaries had not.
Sixty and 70 percent of those with no or low high school qualifications hadn't visited a river or lake in the past 12 months.
Those with high incomes and high education were twice as likely to have been beside waterways in the last year.
Swim Fresh boss Mark Blackham said the statistics were worrying.
"Visiting and swimming in our rivers is the last great free Kiwi experience within reach of almost all of us," he said.
"Natural water locations have been proven to help people feel happier about themselves and about life in general. Swimming has an even stronger effect.
"It's sad that people, and especially the young, who could most benefit from what the countryside has to offer, are not able to use it."
Despite reports on water quality in recent times, Mr Blackham said there are still many places for walks and swims close by to most people.