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Know your hazards

The Wellington Region as seen from the International Space Station (August 2002). Image credit: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Centre (ISS005-E-16782)

The Wellington region has experienced a number of emergencies caused by hazards, including earthquakes, floods, landslides, drought and pandemics.  

Geography of the Wellington region

The Wellington region covers the lower North Island of New Zealand. It is bordered by the Cook Strait in the south and extends to Otaki and Mt Bruce in the north. Geologically the region’s most notable features are a series of north–south trending faults, reflecting the stresses of the plate boundary located to the east of the region. These faults reflect the stresses on the earth’s crust caused by the tectonic plate boundary located to the east of New Zealand. 

Geographically the region is dominated by a series of mountain ranges and hills, also trending north-south.  These hills and ranges have an impact on the region’s climate. As westerlies are the prevailing wind the ranges result in a higher rainfall on the western side. The ranges of both the North and South Island can funnel winds through the Cook Strait, resulting in Wellington’s infamous winds. 

Wellington city is the seat of government and a critical point in the national infrastructure. Both main state highways and the main trunk rail line terminate in the city, the inter-island ferries are based in the port and the cable connection between the North and South Island power grids.

“Sometimes it does us a power of good to remind ourselves that we live on two volcanic rocks where two tectonic plates meet, in a somewhat lonely stretch of windswept ocean, just above the roaring forties. If you want drama you’ve come to the right place”    
Sir Geoffrey Palmer

GIS viewer

The Greater Wellington Regional Council GIS viewer is a series of electronic maps that held in Geographical Information System (GIS). This map includes hazard information. It’s like Google Earth, but shows on an aerial map what hazards are present in our region.

Access the GIS viewer

How to view hazard data on the GIS viewer (pdf, 408 kb)

Hazards in the Wellington region

These geological and geographic features combined with human activity present a number of hazards. The hazards in the region have been identified and assigned a risk rating based on the likelihood of a hazard event happening and the overall regional consequences (see the Wellington Region Civil Defence Group Plan for 2013 – 2018).

Hazard

Risk Rating

Earthquake

Very High

Flood

High

Tsunami

High

Storm

High

Pandemic

High

Terrorism

High

Landslide

High

Drought

High

Utility failure

Moderate

Hazardous substance incident

Moderate

Transport accident

Moderate

Fire

Moderate

Animal and plant pests and diseases 

Moderate

Volcanic eruption

Very Low

Find out more

Learn more about New Zealand and Wellington's hazards: