All of New Zealand’s coastline is at risk of tsunami. Knowing the warning signs and the right action to take can help save lives. Find out what to do before, during and after a tsunami.
For a local source tsunami, which could arrive in minutes, there won’t be time for an official warning. It is important to recognise the natural warning signs and act quickly.
Remember, Long or Strong, Get Gone.
If you are near a shore and experience any of the following, take action. Do not wait for official warnings.
Drop, Cover and Hold during the shaking. Protect yourself from the earthquake first.
As soon as the shaking stops, move immediately to the nearest high ground, out of all tsunami evacuation zones, or as far inland as you can.
Walk, run or cycle if at all possible to reduce the chances of getting stuck in traffic congestion.
Take your animals with you only if it will not delay you. Do not spend time looking for them and if you are not at home, do not return to get them.
While evacuating, avoid hazards caused by earthquake damage, especially fallen power lines.
Do not return until an official all-clear message is given by Civil Defence.
When tsunami travel across the ocean from far away, we have more time to warn people what to do.
The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management is responsible for issuing tsunami warnings in New Zealand.
Tsunami warnings are published on www.civildefence.govt.nz and Twitter @NZCivilDefence. Tsunami warnings will also be broadcast on radio and television. An Emergency Mobile Alert may also be issued if there is a threat of flooding of land areas.
Warnings may also be broadcast through siren, phone, mobile text, loud hailer or other local arrangements. Contact your local Civil Defence Emergency Management Group to find out about the warnings you can expect to receive in your community.
Immediately follow the advice of any emergency warning. You may receive warnings from one or several sources. Respond to the first source. Do not wait for more messages before you act.
You may receive warnings from friends, other members of the public, international media and from the internet. Verify the warning only if you can do so quickly. If official warnings are available, trust their message over informal warnings.
The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management has information on finding your local Civil Defence Emergency Management Group.
Only return home once you are told it is safe to do so.
Keep listening to the radio or following your local Civil Defence Emergency Management Group online for information and instructions.
If there was an earthquake, expect aftershocks. Aftershocks may generate another tsunami. Be prepared to evacuate.
Stay away from coastal water, tidal estuaries, rivers and streams for at least 24 hours after any tsunami or tsunami warning, as even small waves create dangerous currents.
Avoid areas impacted by the tsunami. Your presence might hamper rescue and other emergency operations and put you at further risk from the residual effects of tsunami flooding, such as contaminated water, crumbled roads or other hazards.
A tsunami is a wave or series of waves caused by the sudden displacement of water by an earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide or even a meteorite impact. They can travel many thousands of kilometres across the oceans at speeds of up to 800 kilometres per hour.
Tsunami waves contain considerable energy, so travel much further compared to ordinary coastal waves and even small tsunami can be dangerous to those in or near the water.
New Zealand’s entire coastline and some of our larger lakes are at risk of tsunami.
Tsunami can violently flood our shores, causing devastating property damage, injuries and loss of life.
The biggest tsunami in New Zealand are likely to be caused by events close to our shore and can arrive within minutes.
There are three different types of tsunami, depending on where they start.
Distant tsunami are generated from a long way away, such as from across the Pacific in Chile. In this case, we will have more than three hours warning time for New Zealand and we will have time to issue official warning messages.
Regional tsunami are generated between one and three hours travel time away from their destination. An eruption from an underwater volcano in the Kermadec Trench to the north of New Zealand could generate a regional tsunami. We will have time to issue official warning messages.
Local tsunami are generated very close to New Zealand. In this case, we probably won’t have time to issue an official warning, so people in coastal areas need to take immediate action. Remember — Long or Strong, Get Gone — if you feel an earthquake that makes it hard to stand, or lasts more than a minute, move immediately to higher ground, out of all tsunami evacuation zones or as far inland as possible.
Find information about tsunami and what to before, during and after a tsunami on Get Ready, Get Thru. Available in multiple languages.