Cleopatra’s Pool is definitely the most famous freshwater swimming spot in the Abel Tasman National Park. With it’s natural rock waterslide, it’s a great place to cool off and have some fun. But it is only one of an incredible variety of spots in the Tasman District for a freshwater dip. From about November to April I swim pretty much every day. I’m not talking about swimming lengths of a pool with tumble turns and the rest of it, I mean a short dip, usually after a run or cycle with Margret, the trusty sheepdog. Maggie loves to run but she is also like a magnet for any puddle/river/pond/beach where she can cool off, so I generally follow her into the water. I enjoy swimming in the sea too but I’ve always found swimming in fresh water more refreshing.
The Motueka, Takaka, Owen and Pelorus rivers, to name just a few, have an endless array of idyllic spots for a swim. Two of my absolute favourites are both in Golden Bay: Top Rock is in the Takaka River just a few kms before you get to the town of Takaka. Top Rock tick all of the boxes of a truly epic swimming hole; the water is crystal clear, it’s deep and there are plenty of tall rocks to jump off. Salisbury Falls in the Aorere River is similarly spectacular and has a bonus activity: The rocky beach has an endless supply of small flat rocks that are perfect for skimming. I’ve spent hours trying to skim a rock well enough to hit the bank on the opposite side of the river. I’ve also regretted this the next day when I find my shoulder is so sore I need help getting into my t-shirt!
The Motueka River has some wonderful spots, with the most spectacular swimming holes being to the south of the Motueka Valley at and beyond the Alexandra Bluff Bridge. Simply for convenience, I generally end up heading to spots closer to town like the hole directly under the Motueka Bridge or to Blue Gum corner just outside of the Brooklyn village. When school is out kids line up at the Mot Bridge to jump into the hole just below it. It looks as dangerous as all hell to me, but the kids seem to have a lot of fun with all sorts of specular flips and the like.
The Riwaka Resurgence is the perfect place to head on the hottest of summer days. The water from this spring flows through from the porous Takaka Hill so is extremely cold all of the time, regardless of how hot the day is!