7in7 Blog | How to Prepare for an Earthquake in New Zealand

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How to Prepare for an Earthquake in New Zealand

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If you haven’t regularly traveled in California or Japan, you might not know how to react in the case of an earthquake. Wellington does have occasional light earthquake activity, so it is worth knowing how to react in the unlikely event of a little rumble.

Note: Our 7in7 venue at the National Library of New Zealand is one of the safest buildings in the world, housing NZ’s prized national archives and adhering to strict earthquake-proof building guidelines.

? Drop, Cover, and Hold

The key thing to remember is to Drop, Cover, and Hold if you feel an earthquake. According to Wellington Emergency Management, here are where to find safe places in an earthquake:

  • If you are inside a building, move no more than a few steps, drop, cover, and hold. Stay indoors – you do not have to evacuate a building straight away unless it is showing obvious signs of distress.

  • If you are in bed, stay there! Cover your head with your pillow to protect it from falling objects.

  • If you are at or near the beach, drop, cover, and hold.

  • If the earthquake is LONG or STRONG then GET GONE. The only warning you will get for a tsunami caused by a local earthquake is the earthquake itself.

  • If you are driving, pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Once the shaking stops, proceed with caution and avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged.

  • If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, move no more than a few steps away from buildings, trees, street lights, and power lines, then drop, cover, and hold.

  • In modern New Zealand homes, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the structure – doors can swing and injure you.  Drop, cover, and hold is the correct action.

A diagram to explain drop, cover, and hold


? Tsunamis

Even less likely is the possibility of a tsunami, which occur due to strong earthquakes. From Wellington Emergency Management:

“A tsunami is a series of sea waves or surges caused by a sudden event (such as an earthquake) beneath, or near the ocean causing the water column to move and a tsunami ‘wave’ to form. If you feel an earthquake that is either longer than a minute OR strong enough that it’s hard to stand up, as soon as the shaking stops, get to high ground, and out of all zones!” (past the blue line)

Remember! The National Library is not close enough to the waterfront to be in a risk zone. If you would like to check other venues or accommodation, you can visit the Tsunami Evacuation Zone page.

? ShakeOut 2019

If you are in Wellington early, you might come across ShakeOut 2019 – a national earthquake drill on Thursday, 17 October 2019 at 1.30pm local time. Organizations such as schools and offices will be taking part, so don’t be surprised if people drop to the ground at that time!

ShakeOut is held across the world to remind people of the correct actions to take during an earthquake — Drop, Cover, and Hold — and to practice a tsunami hīkoi (evacuation) in in a coastal area.

ℹ️ For more information

Don’t be alarmed, but do be aware! If you do feel the earth move during the 7in7 Conference, it’s far more likely to be from inspiration (or too much partying) ?

However it’s worth getting the mantra of Drop, Cover, and Hold in your head, just in case! You can also read more about earthquake preparedness and other hazards.

You might want to ask your Airbnb host or accommodation provider if there is an emergency kit nearby, with a torch, water, and other key provisions.

Finally, the emergency number in New Zealand is: 111

Michelle Wigg Michelle is the creator of Frugality and Freedom and an apprentice for 7in7 Year Four! She's also a freelance Event Manager & Travel Coordinator, passionate world traveler, and proud Aussie.