Tsunami Evacuation Information
We're living on a coastline where tsunami could occur. It's important to be prepared and know what the warning signs and alerting mechanisms are for a tsunami. Being able to determine these without the aid of the authorities can give you vital time to safely evacuate.
In the case of an impending tsunami, warning messages and signals can come from several sources - natural, official or unofficial.
Natural warning signals may be the only warnings possible for local or regional source tsunami. Examples of natural warnings include:
- Strong earthquake shaking (i.e. it is hard to stand up)
- Weak, rolling earthquake shaking of unusually long duration (i.e. a minute or more)
- Out of ordinary sea behaviour, such as unusual and sudden sea level fall or rise
- The sea making loud and unusual noises, especially roaring like a jet engine.
When experiencing any of the above go immediately to high ground or, if the surrounding area is flat, go as far inland as possible, evacuating all coastal areas or, where present, all evacuation zones.
The first wave may arrive within minutes. Once away from the water, listen to a local radio for information from local civil defence about further action you should take. Do not return until given the all clear.
Even if you do not feel shaking, if you learn that an area has experienced a large earthquake that could send a tsunami in your direction, listen to a local radio or television station for information from the local civil defence about action you should take. Depending on the location of the earthquake, you may have a number of hours in which to take appropriate action.
An official warning from Civil Defence Emergency Management may be given through radio or television broadcasts and emergency services.
Warning may also be through a mobile stinger siren mounted on a vehicle, telephone, emergency mobile alert, loud hailer or other local arrangements.
You may receive warnings from one, or several sources. Respond to the first source; do not wait for more messages before you act.
Evacuation zones are coloured blue.
In a potential tsunami, get out of the blue: head inland or to higher ground right away.
Don’t wait for an official warning. If you are in the blue zone and you feel a long or strong earthquake, evacuate. (Long or strong, get gone)
Take essentials only. When you are in a safe location, stay there until you get the all-clear.
If possible, walk or bike. Travel by car can be slower than walking when lots of people are trying to move at once. Traffic congestion can also impede emergency services.
If you are not in the blue zone, stay off the roads.
Schools and rest homes in tsunami evacuation zones are required to have their own emergency evacuation plans. Do NOT go into a tsunami evacuation zone to collect whānau from these places; they will be evacuating to a tsunami safe location.
If you have vulnerable friends or whānau who live, work or play in the blue tsunami evacuation zone, help them make a plan ahead of time for how they will evacuate. You can find useful information here: https://getready.govt.nz/en/prepared/household/make-a-plan/household-plan/
Tsunami Evacuation maps FAQs
- The Bay of Plenty Civil Defence website www.bopcivildefence.govt.nz
- Council website
- Signboards near beaches
- QR code you can scan to see if you are in an evacuation zone - Just open your phone camera over the code, then click on the link that comes up.
Your location will only have an evacuation map if there is a potential tsunami risk.
Areas like Te Puke and Kawerau don’t need evacuation maps because they are far enough from the coast.
The boards for the whole Bay of Plenty region are being updated during October. There are several hundred of them, so it will take a few weeks to get through them all.
If a board near you hasn’t been updated by mid-November, call us and we will put you in touch with someone from the Emergency Management team.
We wanted to make our tsunami evacuation maps as easy to understand as possible.
The red-orange-yellow zones reflected different sized tsunamis, but if there is a potential tsunami, we tell people in all evacuations zones to move inland or to higher ground .
That’s why we have changed from three evacuation zones to just one. The single evacuation zone is coloured blue to symbolise where water could reach in a tsunami.
No. In some places the boundaries of the evacuation zone have changed. There have been changes in Ōpōtiki.
Even if you are familiar with your local zones, you should check the updated maps.
No, Waikato have a single blue tsunami evacuation zone too. In Wellington, there are blue lines on the road which show how far tsunami evacuation zones reach.
Will the zone boundaries change again?
There could be future changes as the science of tsunami modelling improves. In fact, Emergency Management Bay of Plenty have begun the process of getting brand new regional modelling for Bay of Plenty, and expect to have that data within the next two years. That modelling may show that changes may be needed to change some of our evacuation zones- either increase or decrease their boundaries - so the current zones may change.
If you spend time in a blue evacuation zone, you need to know where you will go if you need to evacuate. This means knowing where there is a suitable tsunami safe location and how you will get there.
Wherever possible, we recommend walking or biking, not driving. This is because traffic congestion is a risk when lots of people are all heading in the same direction at once. As well as a risk to your own safety, lots of cars on the road slows down emergency services.
Remember that if you do need to evacuate, you may need to stay in your tsunami safe location for a while. That’s why it’s important to have a grab bag of essentials like water, snacks, protection from the weather (sun/cold) and medications.
Please don’t head into a tsunami evacuation zone to collect children from school. There are two important reasons why:
- Schools all have their own emergency evacuation plans which they practice and prepare for, including tsunami. Teachers will take students to a planned safe location.
- It is dangerous to travel into a tsunami evacuation zone and it adds to traffic congestion.
If your child’s school is in a tsunami evacuation zone, ask the school what the evacuation plan is. If you are safe at home, stay home. If you have evacuated to a tsunami safe location, stay there until the all-clear is given.
Head inland or to higher ground. Look at your tsunami evacuation map and find a location that is not in the blue evacuation zone where you can wait safely. Suitable areas might be up hills or in parks or other public spaces. Think about how you would get to your tsunami safe location and practice your tsunami hikoi (evacuation walk.
You don’t need to evacuate in a long or strong quake if you are not in a tsunami evacuation zone. If you are safe where you are, stay put because it is important to minimise traffic congestion if other people need to evacuate. If you get official advice to evacuate, listen carefully- it may only apply to people in the blue tsunami evacuation zone.
Once you have reached a safe place, you may need to stay there for a while. That is why we advise you take a grab bag with essentials to get you through the waiting time- things like snacks, water, something to protect you from the weather (rain cold or sun) and medicines.
If there is damage and you can’t return home, we will set up emergency shelter locations. If there is no damage and it is safe to go back, we will let you know as soon as we can.
Both these things take time, so it is important to think about how you can look after yourself and your whānau while things are being assessed and organised.
Strike a balance between what you (and any dependants like small children or pets) will need for several hours, and what you can practically carry.
Each person (other than very small children) should have their own grab bag that is not too heavy, but has basics to get you through; things like water, snacks, weather-suitable clothing, nappies, medicine, phone and charger etc.