If you are near the coast and feel an earthquake that lasts longer than a minute, or is strong enough to knock you off your feet, move immediately to higher ground or as far inland as you can.
Communities around Otago's coast have more certainty about which areas they should leave when a tsunami threatens, with the release of online maps of evacuation zones. Click here to view the maps.
A tsunami is a series of waves generated after a large disturbance of the sea caused by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or underwater landslides. The source of the disturbance may be close to the New Zealand coastline or across the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
A near-source tsunami is generated close to the coastline. The water level will fall rapidly past the low tide mark and then quickly return. If this happens, there won't be enough time to issue a warning.
An earthquake centered on the Puysegur Trench, off the coast of Southland, could trigger a near-source tsunami which may affect coastal communities south of Otago Peninsula.
A distant source tsunami may start as far away as South America, taking much longer to reach New Zealand and affecting more of the coastline. National warnings will be issued by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management. These warnings are sent to the police, Civil Defence, and emergency management organisations. Warnings are also broadcast to the public on radio and television. Some communities have sirens that may go off when this event happens.
Distant source tsunami may affect coastal communities in Otago. People living near the mouth of rivers such as the Taieri and Clutha could also be affected as a tsunami wave can travel up a river.
Tsunami can threaten lives, property and essential services.
If you live or work near the Otago coast, you should be aware that there is always a risk of a tsunami from an undersea earthquake. We have prepared an interactive map that shows the areas that should be evacuated in the event of a tsunami. Check the evacuation zones on the map and work out the best route for you and your family to take if you need to leave.
If a tsunami is generated close to New Zealand, there may be no time for an official warning. Learn the “natural warning signs” that a tsunami may be coming:
If you feel or observe any of these signs, leave the red and orange zones immediately.
If you feel a long or strong earthquake and you are in the red or orange zones near the coast, leave immediately and go inland or to higher ground. Don’t wait for an official warning. If you’re in any doubt about whether you’re in or near an evacuation zone, it’s safest to go.
If there is an official warning, follow the instructions from emergency services or Emergency Management Otago.
If there is time take your getaway kit along with any important documents
DON’T travel into the areas at risk to get your kit or belongings
Take your pets with you if you can do so safely
Walk or bike if possible. Drive only if it is essential. If driving, keep going once you are well outside the evacuation zone to allow room for others behind you to evacuate
Boats are usually safer in water deeper than 20 metres than if they are on the shore. Move boats out to sea only if there is time and it is safe to do so