Two people in a dining room sheltering from an earthquake. A person who uses a wheelchair is covering their head and leaning forward. A person is kneeling under a table covering their head and holding onto the table leg

Te Rū Whenua Earthquakes

Several major faults cross the Wellington region, including the faults of Wairarapa, Wellington and Ohariu.

When an earthquake occurs, DROP, COVER and HOLD to reduce your chance of injury.

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Long or Strong – Get Gone!

If you feel an earthquake that is EITHER longer than a minute OR strong enough that it’s hard to stand up, evacuate to high ground, out of all tsunami zones as soon as the shaking stops.

Get Prepared for an Earthquake


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1. Practise your DROP, COVER and HOLD 

Most injuries and deaths during earthquakes are caused by falling objects rather than buildings collapsing. You need to practise your DROP, COVER and HOLD to help make it your automatic response when the ground starts shaking.

2. Think about safe places to DROP, COVER and HOLD

  • Somewhere close to you, no more than a few steps away, to avoid injury from flying debris.
  • Under a strong table: hold on to the table legs to keep it from moving.
  • Next to an interior wall: away from windows that can shatter and cause injury, and tall furniture that can fall on you.
  • Protect your head and neck with your arms.
  • Not in a doorway: in most homes, doorways are no stronger than any other part on the house and a swinging door could cause more injury.
  • If you are unable to DROP, COVER and HOLD - brace yourself as best you can and try to find a way to protect your head and neck.

3. If you have a disability or mobility assistance needs

  • If you use a cane, DROP, COVER and HOLD or sit on a chair or bed and cover your head and neck with both hands. Keep your cane near you so it can be used when the shaking stops.
  • If you use a walker or wheelchair, Lock, Cover and Hold. LOCK your wheels (if applicable). If using a walker carefully get as low as possible. Bend over and COVER your head and neck as best you can. Then HOLD on until the shaking stops.

4. Quake-Safe your house

  • Secure heavy or tall furniture, hot water cylinders, and free-standing wood burners. 
  • Stick Blu Tack to the base of fragile ornaments or precious objects to help keep them in place
  • Check your foundations
  • Check brick chimneys are properly secured, and if not in use, consider removal. 
  • Find out more about making your home safer during an earthquake here


  1. Find information and resources for people with disabilities or special requirements at
  2. Find out how to make your home safer
  3. Attend a Household Earthquake Planning Session


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During an earthquake: DROP, COVER and HOLD

If you are in these locations:

  • Indoors- stay indoors and DROP, COVER and HOLD, until the shaking stops.
  • In bed - stay in bed, pull the sheets and blankets over you, and use your pillow to protect your head and neck. You are less likely to be injured if you stay in bed.
  • In a tall building - don't rush outside just because the fire alarms go off. Read advice for people living in apartments 
  • In an elevator - DROP, COVER and HOLD. When the shaking stops, try to get out at the nearest floor if you can safely do so.
  • Outdoors - move away from buildings, trees, and power lines, then DROP, COVER and HOLD until the shaking stops.
  • On a busy city street - don't stay on the footpath as things might fall on you from the buildings around you. Quickly move into a building, then DROP, COVER and HOLD.
  • Driving a car - PULL OVER and WAIT - pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Once the shaking stops, proceed with caution and avoid bridges or ramps as they may have been damaged.
  • At home - In modern homes, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the structure and usually have doors that can swing and injure you. Drop, cover, hold is recommended for New Zealand buildings.

Don't immediately run outside:

  1. Wait: While your instinct might be to get outside, our buildings in New Zealand are designed to remain standing during an earthquake and allow people to leave safely afterwards.
  2. Assess: When the shaking stops, assess the situation and whether you need to go outside. It may be more dangerous outside than inside. There could be aftershocks which may cause more objects to fall and live wires could be exposed.
  3. Exit carefully: When you decide to go outside, exit the building carefully by looking up and around you to check for things that might fall on you or injure you - for example, furniture and fittings, heating/cooling systems, decorative masonry, glass/windows, power lines, trees and rocks/boulders on a hillside.

IF YOU ARE IN A TSUNAMI ZONE and the earthquake is LONG or STRONG, GET GONE. Leave immediately AFTER the shaking stops. 

  • 'LONG' means longer than one minute.
  • 'STRONG' means strong enough that it knocks you off your feet. 


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If you are in a TSUNAMI ZONE and the earthquake was LONG OR STRONG, GET GONE.

Evacuate immediately to higher ground or as far inland as possible.

If you are not in a tsunami zone you do not need to evacuate.

Expect more shaking. Each time you feel earthquake shaking, DROP, COVER and HOLD. More shaking can happen minutes, days, weeks, months and even years following an earthquake.

  • Check yourself for injuries and get first aid if necessary.

  • Stay up to date with information by listening to the radio and following WREMO on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Turn off water, electricity and gas if advised to. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window, get everyone out quickly and turn off the gas if you can.

  • If you see sparks, broken wires or evidence of electrical system damage, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box if it is safe to do so.

  • If you can, put on protective clothing that covers your arms and legs, and sturdy footwear. This is to protect yourself from injury by broken objects.

  • If you are in a store, unfamiliar building or on public transport, follow the instructions of those in charge.

  • Use social media or text messages instead of calling to keep phone lines clear for emergency calls. Tip: Consider changing your voicemail to let your friends/family know you are safe.

  • Try to keep control of your pets. Put small animals in a cage or crate if you have one. Protect them from hazards and protect other people from your animals. Animals react in different ways to earthquakes. Your pet may be anxious, fearful, aggressive, clingy, or they may not show signs of stress at all.

  • Check on your neighbours and anyone who might need your help.

If your property is damaged:

  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. If you rent your property, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company.

  • Take photos of any damage once it is safe to do so. It will help speed up assessments of your claims. 


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Fire Following Earthquake (FFE)

After a large earthquake, there is likely to be damage to buildings and infrastructure. This can mean there is more opportunity for a fire to start and spread. On rare occasions, a fire which starts following an earthquake can develop into a serious emergency.