An oil spill off the Taranaki coast is heading south and its most likely landfall is the Himatangi and Foxton beaches.

The spill happened on February 20 and Horizons Regional Council has stepped up its monitoring as it nears the coast.

Horizons' emergency management manager and regional on-scene commander Ian Lowe said increased monitoring was a precautionary measure as the likelihood of oil washing up on the region's beaches was very slim. The council has a team of trained responders on hand should any oil reach its shores.

"The spill occurred just under two weeks ago and was relatively small. As it has travelled down the Taranaki coastline it has continued to break up so it is very unlikely any beaches will be impacted."


If any oil did reach shore it would be in the form of small tar balls.

"We encourage anyone who thinks they may have seen these balls to report their sightings via our pollution hotline so teams can carry out any required clean-up."

Horizons' territory extends 12 nautical miles out to sea and the council is required by law to have a team trained and ready to respond to marine oil spill emergencies. The team practises its response twice a year. Maritime New Zealand provides the equipment and funds the training.

The contact number to report oil sightings in the Horizons Region is toll free 0508 800 800. It operates 24/7.