People evacuating after a long and strong earthquake. People running uphill towards another group of people standing on the other side of a painted blueline on the road. At the bottom of the hill, a woman is pointing towards a tsunami evacuation route sig

Te Tainiwhaniwha Tsunami

The best way to stay safe from a tsunami is to be informed and know what to do so you can get to safety quickly.


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If an earthquake is long OR strong, GET GONE!

If you feel an earthquake that is EITHER longer than a minute OR strong enough that it makes it hard to stand up, leave immediately inland, uphill or to the fifth floor or higher after the shaking stops.

The earthquake may be the only warning of a tsunami, so do not wait for further instructions, notifications, or advice.

You can search the online map by entering an address in the top right corner. Alternatively, download a PDF map for your area.

Search your address to find out if you live, work or play in a tsunami zone:

The above map uses ARCGIS online, which is not hosted on the same system as this website. Open larger map (opens in new tab/window - zoom out and move around to see other areas).

If it is slow to load, PDF maps are also available at the bottom of the page.

Get Prepared for a tsunami


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1. Know and practise your routes to safety

  • Where do you need to go? Look at the map and identify places out of the tsunami zones. Tsunami activity can last for up to 24 hours, so think about where you could stay or take shelter if needed.
  • What are your routes? Some routes might be faster, while others might be safer because they have fewer dangers (e.g., bridges, bottlenecks, falling debris). Consider these factors when planning your evacuation routes.
  • How long does it take? Time yourself and see how long it takes you to get to safety.
    What do you need to take? Keep essential supplies near the door. Have an emergency grab bag, as well as comfortable shoes and warm/waterproof clothes ready. This will help save time if you need to leave quickly.
  • Who else needs to know? Get your household, workplace and/or neighbours involved. Make sure everyone knows the routes and meeting point in case you can't communicate.

2. Learn about official warnings
If you receive an emergency alert, follow the advice given and make sure you are safe. Then make sure your friends and family are safe by sharing the information on social media or by text if it does not delay you. In addition to emergency alerts, information will be provided on our website, and our Facebook and Twitter pages. Media outlets (radio, TV and websites) will also provide information. Find out more information on Emergency Mobile Alerts.


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How to stay safe in a tsunami:

1. Leave quickly - if you feel a long OR strong earthquake, the first tsunami wave may arrive in as little as ten minutes. There is no time for an official warning; you must evacuate out of all tsunami zones as soon as the shaking stops. Every step towards a tsunami safe zone counts. Stay out of the tsunami evacuation zones until officials say you can go back in.

2. Evacuate tsunami zones by foot or bicycle, don't drive - roads may be blocked by debris or a traffic jam. For those who can't walk or cycle, trying to drive out is their only option, and you could be preventing them from evacuating safely. If you need help evacuating or know someone that does, have a conversation with your neighbours about how everyone can get out safely.

3. Evacuating to a higher floor - we recommend evacuating out of all tsunami zones rather than staying in your building. However, some people who are in a high-rise building may decide it is safer to stay there. If you do stay, you need to be on the fifth floor or higher. This is called 'vertical evacuation'. There are several factors to consider, and this is something you and your household or workplace will need to discuss and decide. Read more about vertical evacuation here

4. If you are told to evacuate, follow the evacuation advice. Move immediately.

Don’t go down to the shore

  • The first wave to arrive may not be the largest
  • Waves may be separated by an hour or more
  • Waves may keep coming for many hours


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  • Stay out of the tsunami zone until you are told by officials it is safe to return home.
  • Stay away from coastal areas, tidal estuaries, rivers and streams for at least 24 hours after any tsunami or tsunami warning. Even small waves can create dangerous currents.
  • Continue listening to the radio and following Emergency Management advice on facebook @WREMOnzand Twitter @WREMOinfo.
  • Help others if you can, and it is safe to do so.

If your property is damaged

  • Do not do anything to put your safety at risk.
  • 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. It will help speed up assessments of your claims.

Tsunami zone colours

The tsunami zones are red, orange, and yellow.  If there is an official warning, then evacuate from the zones stated in the warning.

The Red Zone:

Is the beach and marine environment, and some very low-lying areas. This zone is the one we ask people to stay out of most often as a result of smaller tsunami.  

The  Orange Zone:

(Including the red zone) is the area we may evacuate for a large earthquake in the Pacific, such as near South America, causing a tsunami wave of up to 5 metres at the Wellington coastline. Alerts and evacuation advice would be issued by Civil Defence and distributed to the public for this type of tsunami because we have more time. 

The Yellow Zone:

(Including the orange and red zones) is the area that you must evacuate from if you feel a long or strong earthquake. This zone has been defined by modelling a 9.0 magnitude earthquake which is the worst-case scenario modelled for the Wellington Region. The earthquake may be the only warning of a tsunami, so do not wait for further instructions, notifications or advice, evacuate immediately after the shaking has stopped. The Blue Lines mark the edge of this zone in parts of our region. 

If you are not in an evacuation zone, you don't need to evacuate to higher ground. Some areas may be cut off if your normal access goes through a tsunami evacuation zone, so be prepared to stay at home until the all-clear is given. 


Tsunami Blue Lines


Some areas across the Wellington region have blue lines painted across roads and footpaths to show the safe zone if there is a long or strong earthquake. These lines show the maximum possible run-up heights and are based on modelling by GNS Science and Greater Wellington Regional Council. If you live, work or visit the coast, know where the blue lines are and how fast you can get there by foot.

Tsunami maps in your area can be printed and kept as part of your emergency plan: