Media release

Tsunami sea rise expected for southern coast

Thursday 17 September 2015

Wave surges of up to 30cm from a tsunami generated by an 8.3 magnitude earthquake near Chile are expected along the Otago coast from Oamaru to the Catlins from around about 2am tomorrow morning.

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management is assessing the tsunami threat to New Zealand and the Otago Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group has been monitoring the situation locally.

A tsunami warning has been issued for the entire east coast of New Zealand and the Chatham Islands.

The Otago CDEM Group controller Jeff Donaldson recommended Otago people remain alert and take the following precautions:

  1. Stay out of the water (sea, rivers, and estuaries) and not go boating
  2. Stay off beaches and shore areas
  3. Do not go sightseeing
  4. Share this information with family, neighbours and friends
  5. Listen to the radio and/or TV for updates
  6. Follow any instructions from local civil defence authorities.

Everyone on Otago coastal areas, including whitebaiters and fishermen, should be sure to follow these precautionary measures.

Mr Donaldson said southern marine and beach areas could expect unusually strong currents and unpredictable water flows near the shore.

“The severity of currents and changing water flows will vary within a particular coastal area and over the period this warning is in effect,” Mr Donaldson said.

“Current assessments indicate that coastal inundation (flooding of land areas near the shore) is not expected but this assessment may change.”

Mr Donaldson said the first activity to hit NZ may not be the most significant.

Tsunami activity would continue for several hours and the threat must be regarded as real until the warning issued by MCDEM is cancelled.

For more information on the tsunami warning go to

For general information on tsunami hazard in Otago go to

For further comment contact

Jeff Donaldson
Otago CDEM Group Controller
0274 357 162