Tsunami evacuation warning for East Coast and more areas

updated By Te Ao - Māori News

A wider tsunami warning has been issued following a magnitude 8.1 earthquake northeast of New Zealand and people on the East Coast have been asked to move immediately to the nearest high ground or as far inland as possible.

Civil Defence alerted the country of the 8.1 quake at 8.45am. It struck north-east of New Zealand near the Kermadec Islands.

The National Emergency Agency has now updated the areas it considered affected as: 

  • The West Coast of the North Island from Cape Reinga to Ahipara.
  • The East Coast of the North Island from Cape Reinga to Whangarei, from Matata to Tolage Bay including Whakatane and Opotiki. and Great Barrier Island

Strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges near the shore are expected in the following areas. This means a threat to beach, harbour, estuary and small boat activities.

  • The West Coast of the North Island from Ahipara to Makara including the West Coast of Auckland, Manukau Harbour, New Plymouth, Whanganui and the Kapiti Coast.
  • The East Coast of the North Island from Whangarei to Matata including Whangarei, the East Coast of Auckland, Waiheke Island, Waitemata Harbour and Tauranga, from Tolaga Bay to Lake Ferryincluding Gisborne and Napier.
  • The West and South Coasts of the South Island from Farewell Spit to Port Underwood including Westport, Greymouth and Hokitika.
  • The top of the South Island from Farewell Spit to Port Underwood including Nelson, Picton and the Marlborough Sounds.
  • The East and South Coasts of the South Island from the Waipara River to the Rakaia River including Christchurch and Banks Peninsula, from the Taieri River to Puysegur Point including Invercargill.
  • Stewart Island.
  • The Chatham Islands.

There is no tsunami threat in all other areas.

The first waves were predicted to reach New Zealand in the areas around Lottin Point at approximately 9:49am New Zealand Daylight Time.

The severity of currents and surges will vary within a particular coastal area and over the period this warning is in effect.

The first wave may not be the largest, the agency warned. Tsunami activity will continue for several hours and the threat must be regarded as real until this warning is cancelled.

Instructions

  • Evacuation advice overrides the current Covid-19 Alert Level requirements. Listen to local Civil Defence authorities and follow any instructions regarding evacuation of your area. If you are told to evacuate do not stay at home. Stay 2 metres away from others if you can and if it is safe to do so.
  • Do not return until an official all-clear message is given by Civil Defence.
  • Walk, run or cycle if at all possible to reduce the chances of getting stuck in traffic congestion.
  • The first wave may not be the largest. Tsunami activity will continue for several hours and the threat is real until this warning is cancelled.
  • People who are near the coast in the areas under threat listed above or near the coast and felt the earthquake long or strong should move now. Do not wait for an Emergency Mobile Alert to your mobile phone. Move to the nearest high ground, out of tsunami evacuation zones, or as far inland as possible.

The National Emergency Management Agency and GNS Science will continue to assess the threat and will provide an update for all areas as soon as possible.

People in all New Zealand coastal areas should:

  • Listen to the radio and/or TV for updates, and NZCivilDefence Twitter
  • Listen to local Civil Defence authorities
  • Stay out of the water (sea, rivers and estuaries, this includes boats)
  • Stay off beaches and shore areas
  • Do not go sightseeing
  • Share this information with family, neighbours and friends

People on the East Coast of the North Island were shaken awake by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake 105km east of Te Araroa early this morning.

A 7.4 earthquake also struck near the Kermadec Islands at 6.41am and Civil Defence is warning strong currents and surges can injure and drown swimmers, surfers, people fishing, small boats and anyone in or near the water close to shore on the East Coast, Bay of Islands and Whangarei.

The original earthquake struck at 2.27am and has been followed by a series of aftershocks including 5.4 and 4.0 magnitude shakes.

Residents in Te Araroa evacuated their homes in the early hours of the morning following tsunami warnings and fled to the nearby maunga Ttitirangi.

By 3am Te Ao Mārama reporter Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes was on top of Titirangi among whānau seeking safety.

At the time of his arrival 20 cars were already on Titirangi but within the hour many more whānau had crowded on the maunga.

Seeking safety

"There are now over a hundred cars up here on Titirangi maunga  -people have been self-evacuating," he said.

"There are still more people arriving. And the main area of concern between East Cape, so Whangaokeno, Te Araroa and Uawa."

Gisborne resident Destiny Spooner-Pohe said she moved as soon as she felt the shake.

"That was a scary shake man. I ran straight outside with my baby, watching the next-door neighbour's car rocking back and forth."

Wellington resident Nita Brown said the shakes were felt throughout her house.

"Felt in Wellington. Don’t normally feel quakes unless very strong on the rock. House was swaying, dishes on the bench gently rattling away!"

Shakes were even felt as far as Auckland. Milton Grant said he was in hospital when he felt it.

"I'm in hospital in Middlemore, and the nurses felt the shake too."

Civil Defence is warning people on the East Coast of the North Island to move out of the water, off beaches and shore areas and away from harbours, rivers and estuaries.

Advice for people under threat

  • Move out of the water, off beaches and shore areas and away from harbours, rivers and estuaries;
  • Do not go to the coast to watch the unusual wave activity as there may be dangerous and unpredictable surges;
  • Listen to local civil defence authorities and follow any instructions;
  • Share this information with family, neighbours and friends; and
  • Check the Civil Defence website for any further warnings www.civildefence.govt.nz