People are being warned to stay out of the water at one of Tauranga's busiest swimming spots because of a wastewater contamination.

The Tauranga City Council yesterday night posted an announcement that there had been a wastewater overflow at Pilot Bay in Mount Maunganui.

"Heads up: please don't go in the water at Pilot Bay - there's been a wastewater overflow because of a pipe blockage caused by wet wipes," a Facebook post said.

Read more: Wastewater overflow contaminates busy swimming spot at Pilot Bay


The council said it was sending water samples to be tested for bacteria but would not get the results back until early next week.

"We'll let you know as soon as it's safe to swim again."

The announcement was shared more than a thousand times on Facebook and drew hundreds of comments.

This is a wastewater pump that was blocked with rags and wet wipes that were flushed down the toilet. We know it's not...

Posted by Tauranga City Council on Sunday, 14 January 2018

Aimee Stewart said: "Oh this is so devastating and gross. We went to Lake Taupo the other day and a similar thing had happened. Time we looked after our environment."

Katheryn Hyde wrote that her children were there on Saturday.

"Should I be worried? We should be protecting our precious water better TCC!"

Signs were erected at Pilot Bay yesterday alerting beachgoers of a "temporary health warning".

"Due to a recent contamination event you are advised to avoid contact with the water until further notice," one sign said.

Signs were erected at Pilot Bay yesterday alerting beachgoers of a
Signs were erected at Pilot Bay yesterday alerting beachgoers of a "temporary health warning". Photo/Tauranga City Council

It warned against fishing, swimming and collecting shellfish.

Pilot Bay is a popular family swimming spot in the Tauranga Harbour and is next to where thousands of cruise passengers disembark.

Tauranga was expecting thousands of extra visitors over the weekend with six cruise ships sailing into the port between Friday and Tuesday.

Tauranga's mayor Greg Brownless said it was "such a pity" this had happened.

"A lot of people flush these so called flushable baby wipes which are a bit of a disaster as far as people putting them down toilets and through the systems. They don't cope, so obviously that builds up.

"I'd ask people to be careful what they flush down the toilet because inevitably the consequences are something like this happening."

He said he would like to look into the incident further and see if there was anything the council could do in the future.

"There are two things: one we can look and see if there are any engineering or physical things we can do to lessen the chance of it happening again and the second thing is to ask people to be please be careful what they flush in toilets and to avoid these so called flushable baby wipes.

"I don't know what [else] we can do to stop people flushing baby wipes."

As for the warning to not enter the water at Pilot Bay, Brownless said it was probably best to be precautionary.

"Otherwise someone that does swim and gets sick … they're not going to be very happy and I can understand that too."

This is not the first time Pilot Bay has been contaminated.

There was a sewage overflow near the boat ramp in February 2016 and the December before, Pilot Bay was also closed to the public after wastewater contaminations.

In that case, a commercial fishing vessel in Tauranga Harbour was found to be taking on water and while booms were deployed the vessel's sewage tank appeared to be the problem after being emptied into a sucker truck.