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Swimming Pool Fencing

This page contains more information about fencing of swimming pools.
Updated: 24/04/2020 1:23 p.m.

The above video explains the key safety tips for your home pool.

Council Industry Seminar

Explaining the update on swimming pool regulations

On 31 January 2019, Council's swimming pool's team ran a seminar explaining the update on swimming pool regulations for people involved in all aspects of pool sales, building and planning pools and pool fences, sales of houses or properties with pools. 

The seminar was designed to help you tell your customers about pools and pool fencing for those working within the industry i.e:

  • Pool retailers
  • Pool contractor / manufacturers
  • Fencers
  • Architects
  • Builders
  • Real Estate Agents
  • Landscapers

Information packs were handed out to those who attended.

If you missed out on receiving your pack, click on the links below to view the information.


Private swimming pools are the single most significant water hazard for pre-school children.

Studies in New Zealand and overseas have shown that most drownings involve the children of pool owners and visitors, rather than wandering children. 

The Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 (link below) was introduced to protect young children from the dangers of unfenced swimming pools. 

Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987

In January 2017 this Act was replaced with provisions in the Building Act 2004, and a new standard for swimming pool fence compliance was introduced – Building Code Clause F9.  This Clause F9 applies to all residential pools constructed after 1 January 2017.

Building Act 2004

Clause F9 sets out the types of fencing or other requirements you need to have around your pool and most pools will require a building consent.   

Building Code Clause F9

Pool owner’s obligations

It is the pool owner or operator’s obligation to comply with the legal requirements to have a physical barrier around the pool.

Guidance for pool owners

View our Pool Fencing Guidelines brochure (link below)

Pool Fencing Guidelines [834kb]

Pool owners and operators must advise Council that they have a pool on their property or are going to construct one – this includes spa pools and hot tubs.

You need a building consent before constructing any type of pool or building or altering a fence around a pool.

If a pool does not have the appropriate physical barrier to the standard as required by the legislation you must keep it empty.

Note - an empty pool that could allow a fall of one metre or greater (to the bottom of the pool) must have barriers erected to ensure safety from falling, in order to comply with the Building Act.

Details can be obtained from the New Zealand Building Code, Clause F4 – Safety from Falling (link below).

Clause F4 - Safety from Falling

Tenant’s obligations

If you rent / lease a house with an unfenced pool (or that has a pool with a non-complying fence), the pool must stay empty.

Whangarei District Council’s obligations

We are required to ensure that residential pools in the District are inspected at least once every three years to determine whether the pool has barriers that comply with the legislation. 

Inspections are charged as per the fees and charges schedule (link below) and comprise of an administration and field inspection component. Failed inspections will incur additional fees.

Unfenced pools

If you do not have an appropriate physical barrier around your pool, you are committing an offence under the legislation.  This may lead to a Notice to Fix being issued, an infringement fine being imposed or prosecution.

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

Portable Pools

It is becoming popular and easier to purchase portable pools - blow up pools etc.

Owners are reminded to ensure that they follow the safety instructions given with these items - including the need for an appropriate physical barrier around the pool – these pools may still be subject to the legislation - be aware!

What pools do not need to be fenced?

All residential pools, need to have an appropriate physical barrier unless: -

  • The maximum depth of water  is less than 400mm

All other pools, for paddling, swimming etc need to have a barrier consistent with the requirements of the Building Code F9.

Building Code Clause F9

What standard of fencing is required?

Before constructing a pool barrier, you will require a building consent. The Clause F9 sets out the standard of fencing required.

All materials and components must be of a durable nature and erected to prevent young children from climbing over, crawling under or through the fence.

If using a boundary fence as part of your pool barrier, you need to regularly ensure that the neighbouring side is free from objects which a child can use to climb over. 

Any boundary fence used as a barrier for a pool must also comply with the provisions of Clause F9.

Alternate options

There may be alternate solutions to your pool barrier requirements under New Zealand Standard (NZS8500:2006 - link below). Please consult with a council Building Officer on these options. 

NZ Standards - Safety barriers and fences

Refer to ‘A Pool Owner’s Guide to Fencing your Swimming and Spa Pool’ (link below) for a comprehensive list of technical information.

Guidance for pool owners

Exemptions from the Act

Council has the discretion to grant exemptions to the legislation if it can be clearly demonstrated the danger to young children will not be significantly increased. 

Please contact Council if you wish to discuss such an exemption.  Fees will apply.  



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