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Following a Long or Strong Earthquake, Get Gone! Evacuate immediately, go inland or uphill. 

Hawke’s Bay is one of the most seismically active region in New Zealand, as such our coast is at risk of a tsunami. If an earthquake is longer than a minute, or strong enough to stop you from standing, you need to Get Gone, self-evacuate immediately by going inland or uphill by foot or by bike. DO NOT WAIT FOR AN OFFICIAL WARNING.

Be prepared in an emergency by having a grab bag and emergency supplies at home and having a plan to evacuate. The below steps outline what you can do to prepare before, during and after a tsunami, alongside the associated hazards and scientific information.


Tsunami evacuation zones

If you are in any of the Hawke’s Bay tsunami evacuation zones (red, orange, or yellow) you need to be ready to self-evacuate following an earthquake. The first tsunami wave may arrive within 15 and 40 minutes so leave as soon as the shaking stops and go as fast as you can; every step towards safety counts.

Find out if you or your family live, work and play in a tsunami evacuation zone. The map below provides information about the current evacuation zones. The three evacuation zones are based on a variety of hazard models that aim to include all possible flooding from all known tsunami sources, including 'worst case' scenarios for Hawke's Bay for tsunami coming from both a very large local earthquake, or from across the Pacific Ocean.


Before a Tsunami

Make sure you know how to identify the natural warning signs of a tsunami - This means that if you fell a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand, or a long earthquake that lasts more than a minute, you need to get gone by self-evacuating, go either uphill or inland.

You also need to self-evacuate if you see a sudden rise or fall in ocean level or hear a loud or unusual noise from the ocean. Every step counts when evacuating prior to a tsunami, so know the warning signs and be ready to evacuate following a Long or Strong earthquake.

Know your Tsunami evacuation zone - All zones (red, orange, and yellow) must evacuate if there is a Long or Strong earthquake. First, check if your home, school, or workplace is in a tsunami evacuation zone here.  

Think about who else needs to know? Get your household, workplace and/or neighbours involved. Make sure everyone knows the zone that they live, work, or go to school in. In the case of tsunami coming from far away, providing lots of warning time, specific zones may be asked to evacuate by Civil Defence Emergency Management.

Plan the potential routes you and your household will take to get out of the tsunami zone - Once you know your route, practice it. You should have more than one route in case you need to change route on the day. You may have to take this route at night, so consider practicing in the dark, and have a torch in your emergency grab bag.

Remember that you will need to walk, running, or biking rather than drive following an earthquake. Roads may be damaged in the earthquake or there may be too many cars on the road, causing traffic jams. The aim is for you and your family to be safe.

Before an event work out what you need to take - Keep essential supplies in a place you can easily access. 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. Your grab bag should include water, essential medicines, lightweight snacks, a torch, copies of important documents and photo ID. Pet food if applicable – remembering you have to carry the bag as you evacuate so don’t make it too heavy. 

If you, or a member of your household or community has a disability that may affect your ability to evacuate in a tsunami, make arrangements now to get the support needed. Information and resources to help people with disabilities prepare for an emergency are available on the Get Ready website:

During a Tsunami

Evacuating immediately after a Long OR Strong earthquake is your responsibility - Be a leader and encourage those around you to follow. Go immediately to the nearest high ground or as far inland as you can, take the route that is quickest for you. Do not stay at home. 

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. 

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. While evacuating avoid hazards cause by earthquake damage.

Do not wait for an official warning - By the time Civil Defence Emergency Management gets a warning up and you search it online, it will be too late. Know the natural warning signs of a tsunami, as they may be your only warning - If you feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up or a weak rolling earthquake that lasts a minute or more, see a sudden rise or fall in sea level, or hear loud and unusual noises from the sea, evacuate immediately.

If tsunami is coming from further across the ocean, we would then have time to issue and organise an evacuation. Advisories and warnings, and advice on what zones to evacuate from, will also be issued by Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management through this website, social media, radio, or Emergency Mobile Alerts.  

After a Tsunami

Only return home after told by CD or emergency services that it is safe to do so. 

If someone needs to be rescued, call the emergency services with the right equipment to help. Many people have been killed or injured trying to rescue others in flooded areas. If you can - help people who require special assistance, including infants, elderly people, those without transportation, families who may need additional help in an emergency.


Expect aftershocks.

If there was a local earthquake expect there to be aftershocks, and that aftershocks may cause further tsunamis


Stay Informed.

Stay tuned to a radio station for updated emergency information. The tsunami may have damaged roads, bridges, or other places that may be unsafe.

Stay away from coastline, estuaries, rivers, and streams for at least 24 hours after, small waves can pose significant danger. Also stay away from damaged areas, you could be hampering rescue operations, cause further damage or put yourself at risk. Stay away from exposed areas until the official all-clear is given by authorities and emergency services.

If there was a local earthquake expect there to be aftershocks, and that aftershocks may cause further tsunamis..

Tsunami Risk

A tsunami is a series of fast traveling waves caused by large disturbances on the ocean floor, such as earthquakes, landslides, or volcanic eruptions. A tsunami is made up of very turbulent water – even a small tsunami wave can knock you off your feet. The risk of a tsunami impacts Hawke’s Bay can be separated into near source, regional, or far source.

A near source tsunami could arrive in less than twenty minutes, potentially caused by an earthquake from the Hikurangi subduction zone. In this instance you need to self-evacuate.  A regional source tsunami could take between one to three hours to reach Hawkes Bay.  A distant source tsunami could take more than three hours to reach Hawke’s Bay.

The Hawke’s Bay Hazard Portal ( highlights the tsunami hazard where you and your household live, work and play. The tsunami inundation tab shows areas identified as at risk of tsunami inundation at various modelled tsunami events.

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