Pool fences and barriers

All residential pools, including portable pools, paddling pools and spas, deeper than 400mm must have an appropriate barrier or fence to keep young children safe from drowning.

As a swimming pool owner it is your responsibility to make sure your pool fence meets New Zealand regulations.

See Safety Guidance for Pool Owners for more information.

Safety Guidance for Pool Owners (www.building.govt.nz)

Pool fences

Pool fences must prevent young children from climbing over, crawling under or through the fence. You must get a building consent before you build or alter a fence around a pool.

The fence must:

  • be at least 1.2m high, measured from the ground on the outside of the fence. If there is a permanent object within 1.2m of the fence, e.g. a built-in BBQ, the height must be measured from the top of the object.
  • have maximum gaps of:
    • 100mm between the ground and the bottom of the fence
    • 100mm between each vertical rail
    • 900mm between the horizontal railings.
  • NOT have diagonal rails.
  • only be around the area related to the pool and must not include the vegie garden or a playground for example.
  • be constructed of durable materials

Pool gates

The gate must:

  • open outwards away from the pool
  • be clear of obstructions that could keep it open
  • have a self-closing latch. If the latch is outside the pool, it needs to be at least 1.5m above the ground.
  • NOT have diagonal rails.

Boundary fences as pool barriers

If you are using your property boundary fence as part of your pool barrier, it needs to be at least 1m from the water’s edge. You must regularly ensure that the neighbouring side is free from objects which a child can use to climb over.  

For timber fences:

  • there must be no more than 10mm gap between vertical rails and between the ground and the bottom of the fence.
  • at least 1.8m height with at least 900mm gap between horizontal railings on the pool side. The top railing must be no more than 150mm from the top of the fence.

If your existing fence does not comply and you can’t agree with your neighbour on how to make the fence compliant, you will need to build a new pool fence. The new pool fence must be at least 1.2m high and at least 1.2m away from the boundary fence.

You must tell us if you have a pool on your property or if are going to construct one.

You will need to check if a building consent is needed.

Above ground pools

Above ground pools need a compliant fence if any of these conditions apply:

  • the top of the pool is less than 1.2m above the adjacent ground
  • the pool is closer than 1.2m to a permanent object
  • the pool wall can be climbed
  • there are climbable objects such as ladders or filter boxes, alongside.

Spas and hot tubs

Small heated pools such as spas or hot tubs of 5m2 or less can use a strong, lockable cover as a barrier if:

  • the pool is at least 760mm above the ground (if it’s located next to permanent object like a deck, measure 760mm from that point), and
  • the pool steps are easily removable, and
  • the walls can’t be climbed, and
  • the pool cover has appropriate safety signage (pool cover stickers are available at local pool shops).

If your pool does not meet these conditions, you have to fence it meeting the requirements set out on this page.

Indoor pools

Indoor pools also need to have restricted access. For example, doors to the pool area need an audible alarm or need to be self-closing and self-latching. Children should not be able to easily open the door to the pool room.

Residential swimming pool fences must be inspected at least once every three years by either a Council pool inspector or an independently qualified pool inspector.

In between inspections you should regularly check your pool barrier meets the rules outlined on this page.

The cost for a Council pool inspection in the Whangarei District is $147.

If your pool barrier is non-complying it may lead to:

  • a Notice to Fix being issued

  • an infringement fine

  • prosecution.

Several prosecutions have recently been taken against property owners with inadequately fenced pools in which children have drowned.

If a pool does not have the appropriate physical barrier you must keep it empty.

An empty pool that could allow a fall of 1m or greater (to the bottom of the pool) must have barriers erected to ensure safety from falling.

Safety from Falling section of NZ Building Code

If you are a renting a property with a pool it is the property owner's responsibility to make sure it is adequately fenced in the manner described on this page.

If you are connected to the town water supply your property needs to be fitted with a backflow preventer at the water main. This will stop pool water flowing backward and contaminating the water supply should there be a drop in pressure. 

To keep your household water supply safe from backflow make sure external hose taps are fitted with vacuum breaker valves (available from local hardware stores).

Backflow Frequently Asked Questions(PDF, 192KB)

When draining your pool the chemicals and water discharge can be harmful to fish and cause land stability problems, if drained onto the property. Pool water should be discharged into the Council's wastewater system or a suitable soakage site on your property.

Guide for disposing of pool water(PDF, 97KB)