All of New Zealand is at risk of earthquakes. We can’t predict when one will happen, but we can protect ourselves and our whānau. Find out what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

Remember: Drop, Cover and Hold

(‘Oku tētē atu ‘a e ngaahi fo‘i lea ko e ‘‘When an earthquake happens” ‘i he sio‘ata sio‘angá. Ka ‘oku maumau‘i kinautolu ‘e ha ngalulu fakafokifā pea ‘oku nau ngangana hifo ki he kelekelé.)

‘I he taimi ‘oku hoko ai ha mofuike, Tō, Malu‘i pea Piki Ma‘u leva ‘i he taimi pē ko iá.

(‘Oku totolo vave atu ha tokotaha ki ha lalo tēpile ‘i he ‘asi hake ‘a e ngaahi fo‘i lea To Malu‘i Piki Ma‘u ‘i ‘olunga ‘iate iá. ‘Oku malu‘i ‘e he tokotahá ‘a hono ‘ulú mo e kiá ‘aki hono ongo nimá. ‘Okú ne ala atu mo hono nima ‘e taha ke piki ki ha va‘e ‘o e tēpilé.)

Tō hifo ‘o tu‘ulutui na‘a liaki koe ki lalo.

(‘Oku ‘i lotomālie ‘i he sio‘ata sio‘angá ‘a e tokotaha ‘oku tētē ‘i hono tafa‘akí ‘a e fo‘i lea ko e Tō. ‘Okú ne tō hifo ki lalo ‘o piki‘aki ‘a hono ongo nimá ‘i he kamata ke ongo mai ‘a e ‘u‘ulú.)

Malu‘i ho ‘ulú mo e kiá.

(‘Oku malu‘i ‘e he tokotahá ‘a hono ‘ulú mo e kiá ‘aki hono ongo nimá. ‘Oku ‘asi hake ‘i ‘olunga ‘iate ia ‘a e ngaahi fo‘i lea ko e “‘Malu‘i e ‘ulú, kiá mo e ngaahi konga mahu‘inga ‘o e sinó.”)

Hū ki lalo ‘i ha tesi pe tēpile kapau te ke lava.

(‘Oku ‘asi ha tēpile ‘i he tafa‘aki ‘o e fakatātaá peá ne totolo ‘i lalo ai, ‘o kei ‘ufi‘ufi pē hono kiá ‘aki hano nima ‘e taha. ‘I he‘ene a‘u ki he lalo tēpilé ‘o toe ‘ufi‘ufi hono ‘ulú, ‘e tō hifo ha ngaahi kongokonga papa lalahi ki he tēpilé. ‘Oku ‘asi mai ‘a e ngaahi fo‘i lea ko e “‘Hoko ko ha hu‘unga si‘isi‘i ange ki he ngaahi me‘a ‘oku ngangana hifó‘ ‘i ‘olunga ‘i he tēpilé.”)

Pea puke ma‘u kae‘oua kuo ‘osi ‘a e ngalulú.

(‘I he tō hifo ‘a e ngaahi kongokonga papá ki he falikí, ‘oku ala atu ‘a e tokotahá ke puke ha va‘e ‘o e tēpilé. ‘Oku ‘asi mai ‘a e ngaahi fo‘i lea ko e ‘‘Ikai ha tēpile? Pukepuke ho ‘ulú mo e kiá’ ‘i ‘olunga” ‘i he tēpilé.)

(‘Oku ‘asi mai ‘a e fakatātā faka‘ilonga ‘o e Civil Defence (logo) ‘i he sio‘ata sio‘angá. ‘Oku ‘asi mai ‘a e URL ‘i lalo)

Remember: Drop, Cover and Hold

In an earthquake Drop, Cover and Hold.

Drop down on your hands and knees. Cover your head and neck. Hold on to your shelter.

Reduce the impacts of earthquakes

Make your home safer. Fix and fasten objects that could fall and hurt you in an earthquake.

Review your insurance regularly. Having insurance cover for your home and contents is important to help you get back on your feet if you suffer damage in a disaster.

External link
Earthquake Commission logo

Visit the Toka Tū Ake Earthquake Commission website for more information on making your home safer.

Internal link
A house

We can't predict disasters, but we can prepare for them. One of the best places to start is with your home. Find out what you can do to make your home safer.

Get ready before an earthquake

Work out what supplies you might need and make a plan together.

Practise Drop, Cover and Hold at least twice a year. You can do this when the clocks change and by taking part in New Zealand ShakeOut. It's important to practise the right action to take so that when a real earthquake happens, you know what to do.

Identify safe spaces to Drop, Cover and Hold within your home, school, work and other places you often visit.

  • Somewhere close to you, no more than a few steps away, to avoid injury from flying debris.
  • Under a strong table. Hold on to the table legs to keep it from moving away from you.
  • Away from windows that can shatter and cause injury. And from tall furniture that can fall on you. Protect your head and neck with your arms.
  • Not in a doorway. In most homes, doorways are not stronger than any other part of a house and a swinging door can cause more injury.
External link
Earthquake Commission logo

Visit the Toka Tū Ake Earthquake Commission website for more information on making your home safer.

Internal link
Emergency supplies on some pantry shelves

In an emergency, you may be stuck at home for three days or more. Your house is already full of emergency items disguised as everyday things. Figure out what supplies you need and make a plan to get through.

What to do during an earthquake

Drop, Cover and Hold is the right action to take in an earthquake. It:

  • stops you being knocked over
  • makes you a smaller target for falling and flying objects, and
  • protects your head, neck and vital organs.

Do not run outside or you risk getting hit by falling bricks and glass.

If you are near the coast remember, Long or Strong, Get Gone.

  • Drop, Cover and Hold until the shaking is over.
  • If the earthquake lasts longer than a minute or is strong enough to make it difficult to stand, move quickly to the nearest high ground or as far inland as you can out of tsunami evacuation zones.
  • Find out more about how to protect yourself from a tsunami.

Drop, Cover and Hold

In an earthquake Drop, Cover and Hold.

Drop down on your hands and knees. Cover your head and neck. Hold on to your shelter.

Learn how to Drop, Cover and Hold
Man and his son doing Drop, Cover and Hold under a table

What to do after an earthquake

Expect more shaking. Each time you feel earthquake shaking, Drop, Cover and Hold. More shaking can happen minutes, days, weeks, months and even years following an earthquake.

  • Check yourself for injuries and get first aid if necessary.
  • Do not run outside. It is frightening to stay in a building immediately after an earthquake, but it is much safer than going outside. An earthquake is not like a fire. You do not have to evacuate a building straight away unless it is showing obvious signs of distress or you are in a tsunami evacuation zone.
  • Turn off water, electricity and gas if advised to. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window, get everyone out quickly and turn off the gas if you can.
  • If you see sparks, broken wires or evidence of electrical system damage, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box if it is safe to do so.
  • If you can, put on protective clothing that covers your arms and legs, and sturdy footwear. This is to protect yourself from injury by broken objects.
  • If you are in a store, unfamiliar commercial building or on public transport, follow the instructions of those in charge.
  • Use social media or text messages instead of calling to keep phone lines clear for emergency calls.
  • Keep control of your pets. Protect them from hazards and protect other people from your animals.
  • Check on your neighbours and anyone who might need your help.

If your property is damaged

  • Do not do anything that puts your safety at risk or causes more damage to your property.
  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible.
  • If you rent your property, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company.
  • Take photos of any damage. It will help speed up assessments of your claims.
External link
Civil Defence logo

Find your local Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group.

Stay informed

Listen to the radio or follow your Civil Defence Emergency Management Group online.

Find out how to stay informed
A cartoon woman receiving Emergency Mobile Alert next to a dog floating
  • Earthquakes are the shaking of the surface of the Earth. They are caused by a sudden release of energy.

    Most (though not all) earthquakes start with this release of energy on faults. Faults are breaks that go deep within the Earth’s crust. Tension builds along faults as tectonic plates. Tectonic plates are always on the move. They scrape over, under or past each other.

    Earthquakes may be a foreshock or may be followed by aftershocks. Foreshocks are earthquakes that precede a larger earthquake. Aftershocks are earthquakes that follow the main earthquake as the rocks readjust and the ground settles into position. Aftershocks can happen minutes, days, weeks, months and even years after the main earthquake.

    While the number of aftershocks decreases over time, the magnitude of those aftershocks can be almost as high as the main earthquake. Even aftershocks that are smaller in magnitude can cause stronger ground shaking, depending on their depth and location.

    New Zealand lies on the boundary of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates, so earthquakes happen here every day. Most are too weak, too deep, or too far offshore to be noticed. But, a strong, damaging, earthquake can happen at any time, and can be followed by aftershocks that continue for a long time.

    While we know the locations of many large fault lines in New Zealand, there are many other faults buried underground that we don’t know about. Everywhere in New Zealand is at risk of earthquake hazards.

    Earthquake hazards include ground shaking, land deformation and liquefaction.
    Earthquakes can also trigger other hazards such as tsunami, landslides, floods and fires.

    All of these hazards can cause damage to people, buildings and infrastructure, including roads, pipes in the ground, and electricity and telephone networks.

Types of hazards | Ngā momo matepā

In New Zealand we have a lot of natural hazards. Find out what to do before, during and after each type of emergency.