Do you know what to do in the event of a tsunami? Find out what you need to know, how to prepare, what to do when it happens and also what to do after the event.

View your local tsunami map here.

Local Tsunami Maps

All of New Zealand is at risk of earthquakes and our entire coastline is at risk of tsunami.

A tsunami is a series of waves caused by movement of the seabed. Tsunami can be caused by underwater earthquakes, landslides or volcanic eruptions, however the largest tsunami are generated by earthquakes. A tsunami wave can grow to become a fast moving wall of water. We cannot predict when one will happen, but we can protect ourselves and our family.

If you are near the coast and experience any of the following, you should evacuate immediately:

  • Feel an earthquake that is long or strong.
  • See sudden changes in sea level.
  • Hear unusual noises, like a jet plane, coming from the ocean.
  • Receive an alert. 

Pro Tip!

Know the natural warning signs of 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.

What can you do to prepare for a Tsunami before you are even at risk?

First of all, find out if you live or work or visit a tsunami evacuation zone by looking at your local tsunami maps


Now you know where you will be at risk.

  • Make a plan with your family and neighbours that includes what you will do if you can’t get home, are stuck at home or have to leave home in a hurry.
  • Be familiar with your local tsunami risk, the best evacuation routes and where your nearest safe assembly area is. Check out the new maps.
  • Prepare a Getaway Kit so that if you have to leave home or work in a hurry you have all the essentials.
  • How will I get information? Check that your phone can receive the Emergency Mobile alert, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and listen to your local radio station.
Pro Tip!

Plan and exercise your tsunami evacuation route, especially if you have young children, mobility issues or special needs.

During a Tsunami

If you are at the coast and experience any of the following:

  • Feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up, or a weak rolling earthquake that lasts a minute or more
  • See a sudden rise or fall in sea level
  • Hear loud and unusual noises from the sea
  • Receive an alert

Move immediately to the nearest high ground, or as far inland as you can. Walk or bike if possible.

Pro Tip!

Remember, the first wave is not always the biggest. Stay away from at risk areas until the all clear is given.

  • Take your getaway kit with you if possible.
  • Do not travel into the areas at risk to get your kit or belongings.
  • Take your pets with you if you can do so safely.
  • Move immediately to the nearest higher ground, or as far inland as you can.
  • If you live or work in an Tsunami inundation area, get to know your nearest evacuation routes.
  • Walk or bike if possible and drive only if essential. If driving, keep going once you are well outside the evacuation zone to allow room for others behind you.
  • Never go to the shore to watch for a tsunami. Stay away from at-risk areas until the official all-clear is given.
  • Listen to your local radio stations as emergency management officials will be broadcasting the most appropriate advice for your community and situation. 

After a Tsunami

  • Continue to listen to the radio for civil defence advice and do not return to the evacuation zones until authorities have given the all-clear.
  • Be aware that there may be more than one wave and it may not be safe for up to 24 hours, or longer. The waves that follow the first one may also be bigger.
  • Check yourself for injuries and get first aid if needed. Help others if you can.
  • Do not go sightseeing.
  • When re-entering homes or buildings, use extreme caution as floodwaters may have damaged buildings. Look for and report broken utility lines to appropriate authorities.
  • If your property is damaged, take notes and photographs for insurance purposes. If you rent your property, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company as soon as possible. 
Further information on Tsunami Further information on Tsunami