We need to value our water more seriously if we want to protect our tourism industry.
The warning comes as Napier faces critically low water levels, while restrictions are also in place in Wellington and New Plymouth.
Harrison Grierson water treatment specialist Iain Rabbitts told Mike Hosking water infrastructure is under-funded.
"One of the problems we have is that water is thought of on a very local level, it's thought of by local councils, it's supplied by local councils. All our other infrastructure: road, telecoms, power, all that's thought on a more national level."
He said it would only take one serious shortage to put the country's tourism industry at serious risk.
However, Rabbitts said Kiwis turn on the tap and just expect water to flow.
"We chuck it on our gardens we make our gardens green which is lovely but then we run out of water. I think there needs to be some sort of value put on water."
LISTEN ABOVE AS IAIN RABBITTS SPEAKS WITH MIKE HOSKING