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The Kāpiti Coast is considered to have a very low level of risk from a damaging or catastrophic tsunami.

In preparation for the unlikely event of a tsunami, Council advises all residents living within tsunami evacuation zones prepare a simple family plan to evacuate either inland or to higher ground. 

View the Tsunami Evacuation Zone maps here.

As a rules of thumb, if you feel a long or strong shake immediately evacuate out of tsunami zones, on foot or bicycle - don't wait to be told.  Find out more about warnings below.

The risk of a tsunami on the Kāpiti Coast

Tsunami are long, deep, fast travelling ocean waves propagated by a displacement of water caused by earthquakes, landslides or volcanic eruptions beneath or near the ocean.

The Kāpiti Coast has the lowest tsunami risk in the Wellington Region of a major or catastrophic tsunami with earthquakes near the Solomon Islands posing the highest degree of risk.  The risk is a 500 year event with a wave height of 2.5 – 3 metres

How much warning will you have?

Tsunami can be generated locally (e.g. Cook Strait), generated regionally (e.g. Solomon Islands) , or generated at a distant source (e.g. South American coast).

Local source (less than one hour)

  • Little warning, may arrive on shore within minutes
  • Generally larger in size and has potential for severe impact
  • Residents need to consider the earthquake itself a natural warning, and self evacuate.

Regional source (between one and three hours travel time)

  • Limited warning time but enough for evacuation
  • Likely to have time available for official warnings.

Distant source (over three hours travel time)

  • Provides warning time for evacuations
  • Generally smaller size and lesser impact.

Types of warning for Tsunami

If a tsunami is triggered close to the Wellington region, there will be no time for an official warning to be given.

If you experience any of the following:

  • A strong earthquake (i.e. it's hard to stand up) or
  • A weak, rolling earthquake with shaking of unusually long duration (i.e. a minute or more)
  • The ocean behaves strangely (unusual noises from the ocean or the ocean rushes in or out)

You should:

  • Immediately evacuate the red, orange and yellow zones.
  • Do not wait for official warnings, as a tsunami may be only minutes away.

There may be official warnings issued by Civil Defence Emergency Managment officials from your Council and emergency services.  These can include warnings over local radio and television, WREMO or Council social media or websites, or emergency services and Council vehicles using public adress systems to clear the beaches and streets within the vicinity of the beaches.

You should:

  • Follow official instructions and stay out of any evacuated zones until the official 'all clear' has been given.

Informal warnings may come from friends, family, international media, and the internet.

You should:

  • Verify the warning and follow instructions provided by Civil Defence Emergency Management officials.

Evacuation Zones

Tsunami Evacuation Zone Maps have been developed by Greater Wellington Regional Council, Kāpiti Coast District Council and Civil Defence, which identify the areas residents need to evacuate from in the event of a tsunami.  View tsunami evacuation maps here.


  • Following a large local earthquake immediately evacuate all zones.
  • If you are outside of the evacuation zones identified you do not need to evacuate.  Stay where you are able to help reduce congestion for those who must evacuate.
  • If the official warning requires you to evacuate, you are best to make your way to friends or family outside of the evacuation zone or take direction from your council on the day.

After a tsunami

  • Listen to the radio for civil defence advice
  • Don’t go sightseeing
  • Don’t go down to the sea or return to your property until you have been told it is safe to do so.

Living at the beach

If you live or intend to live at the beach you should:

  • Develop a Household Emergency Plan and prepare an Emergency Survival Kit that will help you cope with being on your own for three days or more (including companion animals)
  • Have an evacuation route
  • Familiarise yourself with evacuation maps in areas you travel to often (eg work and/or school) as well as home.
  • Take heed of all  warnings
  • If you are buying land or a building in a coastal area, talk to the Council on the risks of a tsunami, coastal storm surge and erosion
  • If you experience a strong or long earthquake, don't wait - evacuate.

In an emergency dial 111 for:

  • police
  • fire - including Rural Fire
  • ambulance

Ring this number if lives or property are at risk

Council emergency contact details:

04 296 4700 or 0800 486 486

Other emergency contact details: