Risks & Hazards

The Waimakariri District is exposed to a range of hazards and threats that may require a civil defence response. The hazards that have the potential to affect our community include flooding, earthquakes, snowstorms, tsunami, fire, landslips and pandemic.

Other potential risks and hazards to the community include severe meteorological events (e.g. wind, snow and drought), and long term disruption to essential services such as electricity and fuel supplies.


Canterbury has a history of severe weather storms that cause flooding of rivers from their source in the mountains and sea surges that inundate the river mouth areas, especially of Ashley and Waimakariri Rivers.

To help prevent flooding, keep drains and spouting clear of debris. If you think your property is at risk of flooding, dig trenches around your house to divert water. Sandbags can be bought from Luisetti's or any hardware store and sand is available from landscape suppliers.

Flood Sacks are a very easy piece of equipment for those that may potentially have flooding problems around their homes. Flood Sacks are large, light absorbent rectangles that can be purchased in packs of five for $99.00 which are ideal to place at points of entry to absorb water and hopefully stop it entering homes. Flood Sacks are available from Powerpac, email jay.suckling@powerpac.co.nz or phone 0800 23 57 89.


While the Canterbury earthquakes of  2010 and 2011 remain vivid in our memories as some of the most significant and recent earthquakes in New Zealand history, there is a much longer history of earthquakes in New Zealand.

A major rupture of the Alpine Fault continues to threaten much of the South Island including Canterbury. There is a network of known fault lines in the west of the Waimakariri District and well defined areas of liquefaction prone land. 


Canterbury has a recent history of significant snowstorms (1992, 2002, 2004 and 2006) that have impacted much of the region including Waimakariri. The western areas of the district are more prone to the impacts of snowstorm due to their higher altitude and closer proximity to the alps.


The 7.8m Kaikoura earthquake, and aftershocks highlighted New Zealand’s risk from earthquakes and tsunami. 

Councils play an important role, as leaders in your community, helping to mobilise people in all regions of New Zealand to take the right action.

These are the key things to remember:

  • All of New Zealand is at risk of earthquakes and all of our coastline is at risk of tsunami. Knowing the right immediate action to take can prevent injury and save lives.
  • In an earthquake, Drop, Cover, Hold. It makes you a smaller target, stops you being knocked over and protects your head, neck and vital organs.
  • During a tsunami warning, remember Long or Strong, Get Gone.  If you are near the coast, in an earthquake that rolls for more than a minute OR makes it hard to stand up, don’t wait for a tsunami warning. Move to high ground or as far inland as you can. Walk if you can. Stay there until you get the all clear.
  • Make a plan today.  Know where to go, and find out who can help you and who might need your help. Visit www.civildefence.govt.nzto find out more.

    Council emergency management staff have further information about tsunami response plans for the district.

    Warning time for a distant source tsunami could be as much as 12 hours, regional source could be as much as three hours. There will be no warning time for a near source tsunami. For further information on the Council's public warning system for tsunami, please see Tsunami warning arrangements - public information (pdf, 19.1 KB) .

    • The most likely tsunami scenario for Pegasus Bay is a tsunami from South America - this gives approximately 12-15 hours to issue warnings and evacuate people
    • While we can't completely rule out a damaging local source tsunami generated in Pegasus Bay, all indications are that the likelihood of this is low.

    Tsunami plans


    Waimakariri Fire and Emergency New Zealand is responsible for fires in the rural areas of the district while the Council is responsible for fires in the gazetted urban districts. Fire and Emergency New Zealand are responsible for all DOC areas and the Ashley Rural Fire District.

    Vegetation wildfires (fires that are burning out of control) are a risk predominantly in:

    • Areas of heavy vegetation such as Ashley and Eyrewell forests, and the pine plantations within the district’s beach communities
    • The western areas of the district where farmers use fire for land management 
    • Major river beds where off-road motor vehicle pursuits create fire risk.

    Generally speaking these vegetation fire risks are significant only in the summer.


    Major storms affect wide areas and can be accompanied by strong winds, heavy rain, thunder, lightning, and rough seas. They can cause damage to property and infrastructure, affect crops and livestock, disrupt essential services, and cause coastal inundation.


    A landslide is the movement of rock and soil down a slope. Landslides can range in size from a single boulder in a rockfall to a very large avalanche of debris with huge quantities of rock and soil that can spread across many kilometres.


    When a new flu virus infects many people around the world, it is called an influenza pandemic. If this happens, and the new virus enters New Zealand, many of us could become very sick.