Flood waters can destroy the land. They can wash away roads, bridges, railway tracks and buildings. They can ruin crops and drown livestock. Lives are also at risk, particularly in flash floods.
Floods are one of New Zealand’s most frequent emergency events. They happen when storms and heavy rain make rivers overflow their banks or drainage systems overflow into the streets.
Normal rainfall soaks into the soil, is taken up by trees and plants, and runs off the land to form our streams and rivers. Floods happen when there is too much water and the run-off is too much for rivers to carry.
There are four main types of flood:
Flood waters can destroy the land. They can wash away or damage roads, bridges, railway tracks and buildings. They can ruin crops and drown livestock. People have to take care and prepare. Particularly in flash floods where fast-flowing water filled with debris can sweep people away.
After a major flood there will be a lot of damage and pollution to clean up. It may take months or years to recover.
Only return home once you are told it is safe to do so.
Don't go sightseeing through flooded areas.
Do not drink floodwater. It could be contaminated and make you sick.
Find out more about what to do before, during and after a flood.
Are you ready in case a flood happens?
Find out about the worst flood in your area and how high the flood waters reached. Record this height and share it with your family — would it reach your home?
Make a plan with your family 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.
Make your plan — print it out, stick it on the fridge and make sure everyone knows the plan.
Find out about past floods that have happened in your region.
Read a New Zealand perspective on floods on Te Ara, The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
Natural hazards can be frightening. They can strike at any time and often without warning. Explore the types of emergencies below and learn better ways to prepare.