How to stay safe from a tsunami

The best way to stay safe from a tsunami is to be informed and know what to do so you can quickly get to safety. Follow the actions below if you are in a tsunami zone or near the coast.

Know what to do - If an earthquake is LONG or STRONG, GET GONE!

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If you feel an earthquake that is either LONG (more than one minute) or STRONG (enough to make it hard to stand up), after the shaking stops, leave immediately to move inland, uphill or to the fifth floor or higher.  

Long Or Strong: Get Gone

This evacuation advice overrides any COVID-19 Alert Level requirements to stay at home. Stay 2 metres away from others if you can and if it is safe to do so. Wear a mask or face covering only if you can grab one quickly and it will not delay you leaving.


How to stay safe in a tsunami

10 mins

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.

There are no tsunami sirens in the Wellington Region (read more about tsunami sirens on   

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Evacuate tsunami zones by foot or bicycle, don't drive - this is because 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.

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Evacuating to a higher floor - we recommend evacuating out of all tsunami zones (red, orange and yellow) rather than staying in your building. However, we do understand that 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 (

Radio iconOfficial tsunami warnings - if a tsunami is generated by a distant earthquake, such as in South America, then Civil Defence will have time to send an official warning. If you receive an alert, follow the instructions and stay informed. Read more about emergency information and mobile phone alerts.

If you are told to evacuate, follow the evacuation advice. Evacuation advice overrides any COVID-19 Alert Level requirements to stay at home. Move immediately. Stay 2 metres away from others if you can and if it is safe to do so. Wear a mask or face covering only if you can grab one quickly and it will not delay you leaving.

Check if you are in a tsunami zone 

Travelling across NZ this summer?

If you're travelling to your holiday spots over summer, make sure to check the tsunami zones for that area. 

Tsunami Zone maps across New Zealand  

Check tsunami zones in the Wellington Region Tsunami zone 1

Check if the places you live, work, or play, are in a tsunami evacuation zone. 

Enter your home and work address in the box in the top right corner of the map. Alternatively, view a PDF map for your area (

NOTE: The above map uses ARCGIS online, a system which is not hosted on the same system as this website. If it is slow to load, then PDF maps are available on

Open larger map [opens in new tab/window - zoom out and move around to see other areas].

Tsunami zone colours

The tsunami zones are red, orange and yellow. The yellow (outer) zone has been defined by modelling a nine magnitude earthquake - the worst-case scenario modelled for the Wellington Region. 

  • If you feel a LONG or STRONG earthquake, evacuate all of the tsunami zones (red, orange and yellow) as soon as the shaking stops. 
  • If there is an official warning, then only evacuate from the zones stated in the warning - either red or orange zones.
  • If you are not in a tsunami zone, then you don't need to evacuate to higher ground. However, you must not enter a tsunami evacuation zone (even if it is your only route home) until the all-clear is given. 

Read more about the different colour zones ( 

Know and practise your routes to safety 

Now you know your tsunami zones, you can work out your best and quickest routes to safety from home and work - either far enough inland or to higher ground. 

  • Where do you need to go? Look at the map and identify places which are 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 some routes might be safer because they have fewer dangers (e.g. bridges, bottle-necks, falling debris). Consider these factors when planning your evacuation routes from your home and work. 
  • How long does it take? Time yourself and see how long it takes you to get to safety. You should factor in how long it takes you to leave your home and look at how you do this as quickly as possible.
  • What do you need to take? Keep essential supplies near the door. Have an emergency grab bag, as well as some comfortable shoes and warm/waterproof clothes ready to take with you. This will help save time if you and others in your household need to leave quickly.
  • Who else needs to know? Get your household, workplace and maybe some of your neighbours involved. Make sure everyone knows the routes and the meeting point, in case you can't communicate.

Download the Tsunami Ready App 


A tsunami ready app has been designed in partnership with Alphero. The app is available on iOS and android for people within the Wellington region. On the app you can:

  • Search addresses (e.g. your home, work, school, gym) to see if they are in a tsunami zone
  • Find out how many minutes you are from the nearest safe zone
  • Run a drill to practise your route to safety.

For more information go to


Read more about tsunamis ( 

Watch experts talk about the tsunami risk in the Wellington region and how to be prepared >


Te Hīkoi a Rūaumoko - Rūaumoko's Walk

Te Hīkoi a Rūamoko - Rūaumoko's Walk is a bilingual book based on Ngāti Kahungunu legends relating to local hazards.  It was developed by representatives from the Hawke's Bay offices of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, Ministry of Education and Te Puni Kōkiri,  Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated, Te Ūranga Waka at the Eastern Institute of Technology and Kahungunu Kōhanga Reo Tari. 

Watch the story book videos below or download Te Hikoi a Ruaamoko - Ruaumoko's Walk.

Te Reo Māori version:

English Version:

Download the PDF bilingual version (10MB PDF)


Frequently Asked Questions

Tsunami Safety

Tsunami Ready App


Go to Step 4: Make a household emergency planHousehold plan image

In an emergency, such as an earthquake, having some basic plans in place will keep you safer, let you connect with your loved ones faster and protect some of your most important assets.

Doing a few easy steps will give you much greater peace of mind and ensure that your life is less disrupted.

Go to Step 4 to find out what to include in an emergency plan for your household


Attend a household earthquake planning sessionFind out more at a Household Earthquake Planning session

Attend a free one-hour session to get tips on how you, your household and whānau can stay safe and get through.

The session covers:

  • What could happen to your area in an earthquake
  • How to stay safe
  • Key points for your emergency plan
  • Essential emergency supplies
  • How neighbours can help each other

Attend a Household Earthquake Planning Session