Thornton Bar's most popular beach users are fishermen and fisherwomen. There are a number of ways and areas that are good for fishing. Swimming also has a good following along with surfing when conditions are right. The beach is dangerous even when waves are small due to the strong currents that are formed by the Rangitaiki River mouth that pumps out a great deal of water causing strong rips and currents. There is no Lifeguarding service and all users should exercise caution.
Activities and facilities
- Dog walking
- Horse riding
- Boat launching
- Car parking
- Public toilets
Forecast provided by SwellMap.com
Safety at Thornton Bar
We want you to have a great time whilst visiting Thornton Bar. But take a moment to learn more about being safe on New Zealand Beaches. More ►
Never swim or surf alone.
4 simple rules to keep you safe
We want you to have a great time whilst visiting Thornton Bar. But take a moment to learn more about being safe on New Zealand beaches and looking out for each other. More ►
The Water Safety Code:
- Be prepared
- Watch out for yourself and others
- Be aware of the dangers
- Know your limits
Thornton Bar is located 17 kilometres west of Whakatane on the east coast of the North Island. Thornton Beach Road leads you 2 kilometres from State Highway 2. The beach is made up of both dark and golden sand and is situated on the western bank of the Rangitaiki River mouth while 5 kilometres to the west is the Tarawera River mouth. Thornton Bar motor camp is located just to the west of the main parking area. Thornton Bar slopes quickly into the ocean and just offshore there is a bar that is formed from sediment moved by the river mouth. Tokata, Rurima, Moutoki and Motuhora Islands are located approximately 7 kilometres offshore, directly in front of the beach.
Beach Water Quality
The Overall Recreation Risk is a guide to give a general picture of water quality at a site. Updated annually, it is calculated from bacteria (enterococci) data collected over the last three years. The Overall Recreation Risk indicator is a precautionary approach to managing health risk and is not designed to represent health risk on a particular day. As such, a site can have an Overall Recreation Risk of ‘Caution’ but still be suitable for swimming some of the time.
Overall recreation risk
The long term risk status based on three years of data
- Between 1-5% risk of illness
Many councils also provide the results of their weekly monitoring. This lets people know what the most recent bacteria levels were. Remember, even sites with low risk can be unsuitable to swim at from time to time and we recommend that you avoid swimming for 48 hours after heavy rainfall.