How much warning will you have?

There are three distinct types of tsunami; distant, regional and local.

  • In the case of a distant tsunami, we will have more than three hours warning.
  • A regional tsunami will be between one and three hours away.
  • A local tsunami may only give us a few minutes warning. Your best warning is not a siren, but an earthquake. At that point, get to high ground (20m above sea level.) It's that simple.

Tsunami Warning

Here are the ways you will know that a tsunami is approaching.

  • The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management will issue a national warning on the television and radio.
  • Your local council or Civil Defence Emergency Management Group may issue a warning.
  • If you are at the coast and you feel a strong earthquake, see the sea receding (the waterline moving away from the shore), the sea bubbling or making a roaring sound, move to higher ground immediately. Higher ground should be at least 35 metres above sea level or at least 1km inland.
  • Be aware that there may be more than one wave, and it may not be safe for up to 24 hours. The waves that follow the first one may also be bigger.

Before a tsunami

  • If you live in a coastal area, check with your council about the level of risk a tsunami may pose.
  • Check with your local Civil Defence Emergency Management Group to find out what warning procedures you should expect.
  • Develop a Household Emergency Plan and prepare an Emergency Survival Kit so that you will cope with being on your own for three days or more.
  • Know where the nearest high ground is and how you will reach it. Plan your escape route now with your household.
  • If you are buying land, investing or building in a coastal area, talk to your council about the risks of a tsunami, coastal storm surge and erosion.

During a tsunami

If you have not done so already, move immediately to the nearest high ground. High ground should be at least 35 metres above sea level or 1km inland.

After a tsunami

  • Do not go sightseeing to look at the damage the tsunami has caused. Often the worst waves arrive 1 to 12 hours after the first wave.
  • Do not go down to the sea until you have been told it is safe to do so.