If you are near the coast and feel an earthquake that lasts longer than a minute, or is strong enough to knock you off your feet, move immediately to higher ground or as far inland as you can.
A tsunami is a series of waves generated after a large disturbance of the sea caused by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or underwater landslides. The source of the disturbance may be close to the New Zealand coastline or across the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
A near-source tsunami is generated close to the coastline. The water level will fall rapidly past the low tide mark and then quickly return. If this happens, there won't be enough time to issue a warning.
An earthquake centered on the Puysegur Trench, off the coast of Southland, could trigger a near-source tsunami which may affect coastal communities south of Otago Peninsula.
A distant source tsunami may start as far away as South America, taking much longer to reach New Zealand and affecting more of the coastline. National warnings will be issued by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management. These warnings are sent to the police, Civil Defence, and emergency management organisations. Warnings are also broadcast to the public on radio and television. Some communities have sirens that may go off when this event happens.
Distant source tsunami may affect coastal communities in Otago. People living near the mouth of rivers such as the Taieri and Clutha could also be affected as a tsunami wave can travel up a river.
Tsunami can threaten lives, property and essential services.
If you live close to the sea and feel an earthquake, move to higher ground. Some areas have evacuation signs telling you where to go. Tsunamis sometimes 'draw up' water before they come inland. If you see the water suddenly retreat (after an earthquake), it is probably a tsunami so leave the area immediately.
Learn the tsunami evacuation zones and warning signals for your neighborhood.