A large building is on fire and damaged. There is water around the building and fallen powerlines. The ground has large cracks in it.

Te Mōreareatanga Hazards

The Wellington Region has experienced emergencies caused by hazards including earthquakes, floods, landslides, drought and pandemics.

What makes the Wellington region so susceptible?

Geologically the region's most notable features are a series of north-south trending faults, reflecting the stresses on the earth's crust caused by the tectonic plate boundary located to the east of New Zealand. Hills and ranges across Wellington have an impact on the region's climate. The ranges of both the North and South Island can funnel winds through the Cook Strait, resulting in Wellington's infamous winds.

Severe Weather

The Wellington Region often experiences severe weather events such as severe winds, heavy rain, thunderstorms, heavy swells, and road snowfall on the Remutaka Hill. These events have the potential to cause significant damage and disruption. Heavy rain can cause river levels to rise, which can result in flooding.

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A man is standing in front of a flooded house, struggling with an inside-out umbrella. There is lightening, heavy rain and trees bent by severe wind in the background.


Floods happen here! Floods are the most frequently occurring natural hazard in the Wellington region. They present a high risk due to the large-scale damage they can cause. Rivers can flood due to high rainfall, and urban areas can be flooded from blocked or inadequate drainage.

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A family has evacuated and is standing on a hill behind a house with a grab and go bag. They are looking at a house half under flood water


New Zealand sits on the boundary between the Indo-Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, which means we get frequent earthquakes. The main plate boundary passes to the south and east of the North Island. The Wellington region is crossed by a number of major faults, including the Wairarapa, Wellington and Ohariu faults.

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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
  • When an earthquake occurs: DROP, COVER, HOLD
  • If an earthquake is long OR strong, Get Gone!
  • To view recent earthquakes, visit: Geonet.org.nz


A tsunami is a series of sea waves or surges caused by a sudden event such as an earthquake beneath, or near the ocean causing the water column to move and a tsunami to form. Tsunami waves travel rapidly through oceans and onshore they can cause widespread damage, injuries, and loss of life. Tsunami form a series of waves that can be spread over a 12-hour period, with waves arriving up to an hour apart.

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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
  • If an earthquake is long OR strong, Get Gone! A tsunami could be on the way
  • Do you live in a tsunami zone? Find out here.
  • For tsunami frequently asked questions click here.


A pandemic can occur at any time. On average influenza pandemics occur three times each century. We all need to be prepared for a pandemic to help prevent spread and look after ourselves as best as we can.

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Pandemic: Two women wearing plastic face shields are standing in front of a hospital desk.

Other Hazards

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Small slips after heavy rain are common and may impact paths, roads and houses. Larger landslides may cause extensive damage to roads, buildings, and other infrastructure, and block access to parts of the region.

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If you see smoke or fire and believe there is a risk to people or property, call 111 immediately and ask for 'Fire'. There is a risk of fires following a large earthquake.

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Volcanic activity

A large eruption from Mt Taranaki in a strong north-westerly wind could see ash falling in Wellington. Ash particles are very abrasive, they can irritate the eyes and cause lung irritation if inhaled.

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Utility failure

Lifeline utilities are the gas, electricity, petrol, transport, water, sewerage, and telecommunications infrastructure we need to live. Utilities can be disrupted through events such as earthquakes, fires or landslides.

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Transport incident

Wellington’s main transport corridors, both road and rail, are in a Y shape, with few links between the main arterial routes. Several roads could be closed during storm events due to high winds, rain, or snow.

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Always call 111 if there is a serious risk to life or property. Call 105 to report things that have already happened and do not need urgent Police assistance.

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Hazardous substances

A hazardous substance is any product or chemical with properties that are explosive, flammable, oxidising, corrosive, or toxic to the environment. Fire and Emergency NZ is the lead agency for hazardous substance emergencies.

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A drought is a prolonged period where rainfall is lower than normal for a particular place. This can affect water usage and increase fire risk. If your area is experiencing drought, contact your local council.