How do you know if your drinking water is safe?

Turning on the tap and having a glass of water shouldn’t be a hazardous activity for us Kiwis. You may not even think too much about where your water comes from and most of the time you don’t need to worry.

But there has been quite a bit on the news lately about the bacteria called E.coli found in some of our regions’ water supplies. In December a report was released about drinking water safety around the country and the results were food for thought.

Here’s some information about what happens to the water we drink, how it is kept safe (most of the time) and how you can further reduce your risk of getting sick.

Who is responsible for monitoring the quality of our drinking water?

Local councils and district health boards report to the Ministry of Health about water quality who then publish a report each year that is available for the public to read.

Read about the drinking-water standards in New Zealand

The Drinking-water Standards for New Zealand is a document produced by the Ministry of Health that all covers all statutory requirements for organisations who supply water to more than 500 people.

Find out if your water is treated

Much of New Zealand’s drinking water has chlorine added that kills certain bacteria, viruses and other organisms and makes the water safe to drink. Some areas of New Zealand do not have water treated with chlorine, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the water is unsafe to drink. Opinions differ between the benefits and risks of drinking treated or untreated water.

Keep up-to-date with your region

You can find out about your region’s water supply on the Drinking Water for NZ website.

Stay safe when you’re not on town supply

If your household water supply comes from a source other than a town supply, there are lots of things you need to know about how to treat and store water. Check out the Household Water Supply guides published by the Ministry of Health.

If in doubt, boil your water

Boil water for at least a minute if you’re unsure whether it’s safe to drink. If a problem is found with your water supply, your water supplier may issue a boil water notice until the water quality has returned to safe levels.

Learn more

New Zealand Processes for Managing Drinking-Water Quality Drinking Water for New Zealand
Monitoring water safety Ministry of Health New Zealand
Ensuring our drinking water is safe Water New Zealand


  1. Protecting your health in an emergency Ministry of Health
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.