There are hundreds of earthquakes in New Zealand every year, but most of them are not felt because they are either small or very deep within the earth. However, a large, damaging earthquake could occur at any time. The biggest danger you face in an earthquake comes from falling debris and collapsing structures such as buildings and bridges.

Before an Earthquake

Getting ready before an earthquake strikes will help reduce damage to your home and business and help you survive.

  • Develop a Household Emergency Plan and prepare an Emergency Survival Kit it so that you can cope with being on your own for up to three days or more.
  • Identify safe places within your home, school or workplace. A safe place is:under a strong table; remember to hold onto the legs
  • next to an interior wall
  • somewhere close to you, no more than a few steps, or two metres away, to avoid injury from flying debris.
  • Secure heavy items of furniture to the floor or wall. Visit to find out how to quakesafe your home.
  • Seek qualified advice to make sure your house is secured to its foundations. Also check that any renovations comply with the NZ Building Code.

During an Earthquake

  • If you are inside a building, move to a safe place,
  • If you are driving, pull over and stop,
  • If you are at the beach or near the coast, drop, cover and hold then move to higher ground immediately in case a tsunami follows the quake.

After an Earthquake

  • You should expect to feel aftershocks.
  • Help those around you if you can.
  • If you are in a damaged building, try to get outside and find a safe, open place.
  • If you smell gas, try and turn off the gas main outside the building if it is safe to do so.
  • If you see sparks, broken wires or evidence of electrical system damage, turn off the electricity at the outside meterbox if it is safe to do so.
  • Listen to the radio for information and advice.