New Tsunami Zones for Waimakariri

The Waimakariri District Council has updated tsunami evacuation zones in response to scientific modelling that showed flooding from a tsunami could travel further inland than previously thought.

The District now has three tsunami evacuation zones: red, orange and yellow, and the Council is encouraging residents to check their property and learn more about the zones. The new tsunami evacuation zones will be reflected in Land Information Memorandums (LIMs).

View a map of the new evacuation zones.

While the red evacuation zone has only seen minor changes, it’s the most likely to be affected by a tsunami. It covers estuaries, beaches and rivers which can experience strong currents and surges in the water from tsunamis of any size.

The orange evacuation zone covers land that could be flooded during large tsunamis and already included the coastal settlements at The Pines Beach, Kairaki, Woodend Beach and Waikuku Beach. It has been revised to extend the length of the coast and further inland.

Waimakariri District Council Emergency Management Advisor, Brennan Wiremu says that people in the red and orange zones need to evacuate immediately if they feel a long or strong earthquake or are warned by an official source.

“If you’re in a red or orange zone and you feel an earthquake that is long or strong, get gone,” says Brennan. “There may not be time for an official warning, so once the shaking stops, head immediately inland until you’re outside of the evacuation zones.”

The most notable change is the introduction of the yellow evacuation zone, which covers large parts of Kaiapoi and a section of Pegasus. This area is least likely to be affected, but could be flooded or isolated in a very large tsunami.

Brennan says people in a yellow zone only need to evacuate if they receive an official warning from Civil Defence Emergency Management.

"The modelling is based on worst-case scenarios which shows these areas could potentially be flooded in a very large tsunami from a distant source,” says Brennan. “These events are rare and we’d have at least 12 hours warning, so residents don’t need to be alarmed, however they should have a plan for what to do if they need to evacuate.”

The Council is now working with the affected communities and emergency services to develop new tsunami response strategies. Brennan says residents in the affected areas can expect to receive information in their mailbox about the tsunami zones shortly, which will be followed by a public education campaign including drop in sessions and opportunities for people to ask questions.

The multi-scenario tsunami modelling for Pegasus Bay was commissioned by Environment Canterbury (ECan) and undertaken by GNS Science. The technical reports can be viewed on the ECan website.


Red evacuation zone

This is an area that is most likely to be affected by a tsunami. It includes estuaries, rivers, beaches and harbours. A tsunami of any size could cause strong currents and surges in the water. You can expect to evacuate the red zone several times in your lifetime.

You should leave this zone immediately, if:

  • You experience a long or strong earthquake
  • You see sudden sea level changes or hear unusual noises coming from the sea
  • You receive an official warning from Civil Defence Emergency Management

Orange evacuation zone

This area is less likely to be affected by a tsunami than the red zone. It includes areas on land that could be flooded in a large tsunami. You can expect to evacuate the orange zone a few times in your lifetime.

You should leave this zone immediately, if:

  • You experience a long or strong earthquake
  • You see sudden sea level changes or hear unusual noises coming from the sea
  • You receive an official warning from Civil Defence Emergency Management

Yellow evacuation zone

This is an area that is much less likely to be affected than the red or orange zones, but could be flooded or isolated in a very large tsunami. It is possible this zone will be evacuated sometime in your lifetime, however it is unlikely.

You do not need to leave this zone if you feel a long or strong earthquake.

You should leave this zone immediately, if:

  • You receive an official warning from Civil Defence Emergency Management

Note: In most other parts of New Zealand, yellow zones need to be evacuated in a long or strong earthquake. You should check local tsunami evacuation zones when spending time on the coast.


No zone

This area is outside the tsunami evacuation zones. We do not expect to ever evacuate this area due to a tsunami.

If you’re in this area:

  • You may wish to open your home to family or friends who need to evacuate from a tsunami evacuation zone.

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