Aucklanders warned not to swim at beaches for 'some time' after flooding causes widespread wastewater contamination, debris

The sunshine is finally expected to make an appearance this week after several days of heavy rain - but Aucklanders are being warned not to hit the beaches.

The city has been devastated by flooding over the past few days which has caused widespread damage to homes and businesses. But people who are planning to make the most of the nice weather are being told not to do it at the beach. 

While rain is expected for Thursday and Friday, Saturday is expected to be mostly fine along with Tuesday and Thursday next week. 

But the heavy flooding has caused wastewater to overflow and contaminate beaches. Civil Defence also said debris is making swimming hazardous and people should avoid swimming for "some time".

"We are seeing more sun and we are heading into a long weekend so I imagine if that forecast does improve people will be very keen to get out and about," Civil Defence controller Rachel Kelleher said. 

"At the moment, all of the urban beaches in Auckland have a black do not swim pin on them and most of the rest, or all of the rest, still have advice not to swim."

Kelleher said it's important to check SafeSwim before hitting the beaches even though the rain has stopped. 

"It's likely some of that advice around not swimming will remain in place for some time, just because we have had such a significant flooding event that those contaminants could still be coming into those harbour areas for a little while… just because it's stopped raining doesn't mean those beaches are good to go," she said. 

The Auckland Council's SafeSwim website shows every single beach in the region is marked as unsafe for swimming. 

A warning on the website says: "Auckland’s beaches affected by flooding - wastewater, contaminants, and debris in the water, do not swim."

Every single inner city beach is marked with a black pin - the highest warning the Council can issue. The black pin is issued when wastewater overflow has been detected in the area and often occurs after heavy rain.

The rest of Auckland's beaches have a red pin which is the second-highest warning and means a temporary no-swim warning is in place because of poor water quality. 

Most of the beaches will also be unguarded with chief executive of Surf Lifesaving Northern Region Matt Williams telling RNZ lifeguards don't patrol beaches with black flags. 

"When there is a black flag up, lifeguards won't be on patrol, the flags won't be up, we won't be running events, it is just a straight no swimming," Williams told RNZ. 

"When there's a red flag there's a bit more discretion around it but we always advise to stay out of the water where possible with a red flag and always stay out of the water when there's a black flag."

The flooding saw huge amounts of wastewater flood into people's homes and cars. Officials on Wednesday urged people who came in contact with flood water to keep an eye out for symptoms of gastroenteritis, commonly known as food poisoning. Symptoms of gastroenteritis include diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach cramps.