Floods happen often in New Zealand and can cause a lot of damage and loss of life. Find out what to do before, during and after flooding.

About floods

In New Zealand, we have a lot of natural hazards. Earthquakes, floods, landslides, severe weather, tsunami, volcanic activity, and other hazards can happen any time and often without warning.

Floods happen often in New Zealand and can cause a lot of damage and loss of life.

You can reduce the impacts of floods by finding out what the flood risk is in your area. Your local council may have resources and information on how to reduce potential flood damage.

You should also 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.

Get ready before a flood

Get ready before a flood.

  • Find out from your local council if your home or business is at risk from flooding and how they’ll alert you if you need to evacuate. Ask about:
    • Evacuation plans and local public alerting systems
    • What to do with your pets and livestock if you have to evacuate
    • How you can reduce the risk of future flooding to your home or business
  • Work out what supplies you might need and make a plan with your whānau.
  • Practise your emergency plan and your evacuation route to higher ground.
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Hands marking off a checklist

Make a plan online with your whānau to get through an emergency. Think about the things you need every day and work out what you would do if you didn't have them.

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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 a flood

Know what to do during a flood. 

Put safety first. Don’t take any chances. Act quickly if you see rising water. 

Floods and flash floods can happen quickly. If you see rising water do not wait for official warnings. Head for higher ground and stay away from floodwater. 

Never try to walk, swim or drive through flood water. Many flood fatalities are caused by people attempting to drive through water. 

Always assume that flood water is contaminated with farm run-off, chemicals and sewage. Contaminated flood water can make you sick. Make sure you wash your hands, clothes and property after contact with flood waters. 

If flooding is possible

If flooding is possible, stay informed. Follow your Civil Defence Emergency Management Group online.

  • Be prepared to evacuate and keep your grab bag near. Listen to emergency services and local Civil Defence authorities. Follow any instructions about evacuation of your area. Self-evacuate if you feel unsafe.
  • Move pets to a safe place and move stock to higher ground. If you have to leave, take your pets with you. If it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for them.
  • Turn off water, electricity and gas if advised to.
  • Move valuable and dangerous items as high above the floor as possible. This includes electrical equipment and chemicals. Use watertight containers to store important items.
  • Lift curtains, rugs and bedding off the floor.
  • Check on your neighbours and anyone who may need your help.
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Civil Defence logo

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

What to do after a flood

After a flood, stay away from damaged areas. You might hamper rescue and other emergency operations and be at further risk from the residual effects of floods.

  • Only return home after Civil Defence and emergency services have told you it is safe to do so. It may not be safe to return home even when the floodwaters have receded.
  • Look before you step. After a flood, the ground and floors may be slippery or covered with debris, including broken bottles and nails.
  • Help others if you can, especially people who may need extra 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.
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Rapua ētahi atu mōhiohio mō te tiaki i te haumaru o tō kai ki te pae tukutuku a Manatū Ahu Matua.

Types of hazards | Ngā momo matepā

Find out more about what you need to do before, during and after these hazards.