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Blue lines – tsunami safe zones

Tsunami blue line in Island Bay. Image credit: Nick Thompson.

Many suburbs along Wellington’s south coast have a blue line painted across roads and footpaths. The blue lines show the safe places to evacuate to if there is a long or strong earthquake. That is an earthquake that lasts longer than a minute or one that is too strong to easily stand up in.

If you live, work or visit the coast, know where the blue lines are and how fast you can get there by foot.

History of the blue line project

In 2010, Wellington City Council's Emergency Management team (a predecessor to WREMO) worked with the residents of Island Bay to develop an effective public education campaign to show where the largest tsunami might reach.

After seven months of planning, a community-driven tsunami awareness plan was developed which included the innovative ‘blue line’ concept. 

Wellington City Council painted blue lines across the streets at the maximum possible run-up heights.  These lines are based on modelling by GNS Science and Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The initial blue line project won the Global and Oceania awards for Public Awareness by the International Association for Emergency Managers in 2012.

Blue lines have also been painted in Owhiro Bay and Houghton Bay. WREMO is working with other coastal communities to raise tsunami awareness and, if the community is supportive, draw blue lines.  If you are interested in participating please contact us.

Tsunami zone evacuation maps 

Find the evacuation zone maps for the coastal areas of the Wellington region.

What is a tsunami?

A tsunami is a series of seas waves or surges caused by a sudden event (such as earthquakes) beneath, or near the ocean causing the water column to move and a tsunami ‘wave’ to form.
Read more

If you feel an earthquake that is either longer than a minute OR strong enough that it’s hard to stand up THEN get to high ground (past the blue line), as soon as the shaking stops!