Faecal contamination at one of Tauranga Harbour's beauty spots has cost real estate agent Catherine Sharp a house sale.

The rare appearance of health warning signs on the foreshore of Tanners Point turned out to be a big turn-off for a potential buyer of a house she was selling in the harbourside settlement.

"They were keen, they loved the house. It has cost me a sale," she told the Bay of Plenty Times.

Ms Sharp was at a loss about what could have caused the high bacteria count in the waters off the boat ramp and beach.


"It really surprises me," she said.

Tanners Point had an excellent all-tide deep water access. The harbour channel swung in close to shore where the Tuapiro River emptied into the harbour and they hardly ever got sea lettuce washing up.

Ms Sharp said the settlement's septic tanks were all certified by the regional council and the Western Bay District Council had done a good job doing up the public toilets and putting in a new waste system.

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It was the first time she has noticed health warning signs during her 10 years living at Tanners Point. Boats were in and out all the time and the fishermen were pretty good - fish skeletons hardly ever washed up.

"We are very, very clean," she said.

A relative of the person looking to buy the house said it was one of the nicest spots in the harbour and the strong current going past Tanners Point meant pollution was very unusual.

The man, who asked not be named for family reasons, speculated the problem may have been caused by visiting boaties dumping toilet waste overboard or run-off from farms.

He said his relative had been put off buying the house on Monday because she feared the warning signs could be a symptom of a bigger problem in the area.

Toi te Ora medical officer of health Phil Shoemack said the health warnings at Tanners Point and Rangataua Bay were lifted yesterday. Both locations were tested by the regional council and samples that came back last week showed high levels of enterococci bacteria.

"The problem is no longer there."

Mr Shoemack said there were no obvious causes. "It's a matter of doing our best to figure it out ... it's unusual for those two sites."

He said it did not appear to be something lingering in the background all the time. The bacteria was an indicator of contamination of animal origin and could be caused by faecal matter, a decomposing carcass or run-off after heavy rain.

Mr Shoemack warned bathers that Kaiate Falls and Two and Three Mile creeks at Waihi Beach were known to have high levels of bacteria and were not safe for swimmers.

Regional council environmental scientist Paul Scholes said elevated levels of enterococci bacteria were found on February 10 and 11. A further sample taken on February 12 showed the bacteria had returned to acceptable levels, with further sampling needed to determine whether the warning needed to remain in place. Tanners Point had previously shown acceptable bacteria levels since October 2015.

The sign at Tanners Point that skittled a sale to an Auckland house buyer. Photo / John Borren
The sign at Tanners Point that skittled a sale to an Auckland house buyer. Photo / John Borren

Waterways with 'poor' histories of contamination:

* Kaiate Falls, Welcome Bay

* Kopurererua Stream at Judea

* Ferguson Park, Matua

* Wairoa River below McLaren Falls

* Waitui Reserve, Te Puna

* Uretara Stream, Katikati

* Tuapiro Stream at McMillan Rd

* Three Mile Creek, Waihi Beach