At ORC, we work with communities to make people more aware of natural hazards, so they can reduce the level of risk they face.

We also work with Otago’s district and city councils to manage natural hazards through collaborative projects and district planning.

Our Natural Hazards Database is an interactive tool that allows you to view the information we hold on natural hazards in the Otago region. We assess Otago’s natural hazards to determine the areas they could affect, who and what is exposed, and their level of risk.

Types of natural hazards in Otago

Alluvial fans

An alluvial fan is an accumulation of river or stream (alluvial) sediments that form where streams emerge from hill country onto a valley floor. Alluvial fans can be formed by several geomorphic processes, which become hazards when they intersect people, property or infrastructure.

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Coastal erosion

Coastal erosion is the wearing away of land and beach sediments by waves, tidal currents, drainage or high winds.

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Drought is not just about low rainfall; it’s when the expected rain doesn’t come. In Otago, different weather conditions force communities to adapt. Drought causes problems like stress for people, changes in nature (like losing plants), and financial losses for farmers.

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Earthquakes occurring both within Otago and beyond its boundary can affect people and property within the region.

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We identify areas at risk of flooding from rivers and lakes around Otago.

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The term landslide describes a wide range of ground movements, such as rockfalls, deep failure of slopes, shallow debris-slides, and flows. We hold information on known landslides in the region.

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Snowstorms in Otago pose serious risks, especially in coastal areas unaccustomed to heavy snow. Collapsing roofs, power outages, and transportation disruptions are common. Preparation is key to safety.

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Storm surge

A storm surge is a higher than normal sea level, due to changes in barometric pressures and wind, which can result in inundation of roads and coastal property over an extended period.

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A tsunami is a series of waves caused when a large mass of earth on the bottom of the ocean suddenly drops or rises, rapidly displacing the water above it.

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Severe winds pose significant risks for residents in Otago. They can cause damage to property and infrastructure, while incidents have led to airport closures, downed power lines, and fires sparked by electrical discharges. Strong winds can arise due to various atmospheric conditions.

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Page last updated 2 July 2024.