Media release

Waitaki coastal hazards, looking into the future

Monday 18 March 2019

NIWA has presented their findings to the Otago Regional Council regarding expected coastal hazards in the Waitaki District across 20, 50, 100 and 500 years.

Coastal erosion has been calculated for the entire length of the Waitaki district coast, with no new erosion hotspots identified. This is according to a report on coastal hazards of the Waitaki District contracted by the Otago Regional Council (ORC) and Waitaki District Council (WDC) to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).

More than 60 per cent of the coast in the Waitaki district is shown to be retreating at a rate of 15 cm per year or more, with continued erosion rates expected at the current hotspots of Katiki Beach, Beach Road, Kakanui, North Oamaru, Hampden, Kaika and Karita settlements.

Flooding due to storm surge or sea level rise has been mapped for Oamaru, Kakanui, Hampden and Moeraki for various timeframe scenarios at each site. The areas mostly affected by inundation are Oamaru Harbour and Kakanui Estuary.

“This report improves our understanding of future coastal hazards, erosion and inundation in the Waitaki district due to climate change. NIWA found that while erosion is widespread, the flooding only applies to relatively small parts of the district, mostly Kakanui Estuary and Oamaru Harbour,” said Dr Gavin Palmer, Director Engineering, Hazards and Science at the ORC.

Dr Palmer said the report would help the community to make better decisions on future land use.

“We are working with the Waitaki District Council by providing technical support in understanding the risk to coastal areas, so they can apply it to their planning processes. We are taking into consideration the new Ministry for the Environment guidance on preparing for coastal change and providing learnings from other councils around how to adopt coastal reports with the inclusion of affected communities,” Dr Palmer said.

Hamish Barrell, Heritage & Planning Manager from the Waitaki District Council commended ORC and their consultants for the thorough way in which this report has been prepared. 

“As our understanding of the science around natural hazards increases, this forms the starting point for local conversations around how we manage the risk for coastal hazards specifically. This is part of a wider discussion needed around what provisions for natural hazards should go into the District Plan Review and we would welcome any people getting involved and having their say in this respect,” he said.

For more information about Waitaki Coastal Erosion go to




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