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Natural Disasters
in New Zealand

This peaceful country of the long white clouds and green hills can turn very quickly to something out of a horror movie, with it being vulnerable to most natural disasters, a lot of which have already happened before. Due to the fact that the country is located virtually on top of the ring of fire of the Pacific, with the tectonic plates being constantly fighting either pulling or pushing, it is like New Zealand is sitting on top of a war zone happening deep beneath the earths layers. The result of this fighting is the earthquakes, volcano eruptions, tsunamis, land slides, avalanches, etc. To make matters worse the latitudes in which the North and south island are found also places NZ on the path of cyclones that come from both the pacific and Antarctica. In NZ you will also find other national disasters such as Floods, Fires, snow storms, hail storms and lighting storms.

You donít need to worry, In New Zealand these disasters are rare, and if there is a chance of it happening, you will know well in advance to give you enough time to prepare and be safe. New Zealand has one of the best systems to monitor natural disasters in the world, and the government suggests that they have various numbers of plans of action. However keep in mind that even with all the technology of today modern age, there are still times when mother nature may catch us completely by surprise.

Earthquakes happen frequently on both the north and the south island, but most being so small that it is not even felt. They are rarely higher than 4 on the Richter Scale. The strongest earthquake ever recorded was in the cities of Napier and Hastings on 3rd of February 1931, reaching 7.8, killing 256 people. Earthquakes are one of the disasters that are very hard to predict, and although most are only really minor ones, the chances of NZ being hit by a major earthquake again is great. Click here to see the earthquakes happening today. Click here and take a look at what New Zealand is expected to look like in 4 million years due to the fight between the tectonic plates (Pacific X Australia).  In 2010 and 2011 the city of Christchurch was severely damaged killing 185 people in one of the nation's worst disasters. The February 2011 has magnitude 6.3 and was part of a series of earthquakes and aftershocks in the Canterbury region South Island following the 7.1-magnitude 4 September 2010 Canterbury earthquake.

Land Slides and Avalanches are frequent and are caused by either heavy rain or accumulated snow, or even by small earthquakes. New Zealand has a very mountainous terrain and you will often hear about land slides that have occurred in the country killing a farmer or closing a road. On all Ski fields, there are people who are qualified in detecting possible avalanches, and it is important to keep to the trails which have been marked, and not to venture to areas which are away from the track. Click Here and see the most significant landslides that have recently occurred.

Volcanic Eruptions are one of the characteristics of NZ, with 9 active volcanoes with some of them being out at sea or underwater. The biggest eruption probably to have occurred in New Zealand would have been in Taupo, which gave the origin to the north Island millions of years ago. However the one that is recorded to have killed the most people, and which has occurred at more recent times was MT.Tarawera. The volcanoes of White Island, Ruapehu, Nagauruhoe, and Taranaki, are constantly monitored by scientist. The volcano of White Island (pictured) can be visited with using a tour, who takes you deep into the crater.  In the South Island, there are no active or dormant volcanoes at the moment.

Cyclones, storms, and strong winds that can reach over 140km/h like the one that recently hit Auckland in October of 2005 can cause a lot of damage. A Cyclone in 1995 that hit the Bay of Plenty caused flooding, very rough seas with waves reaching up to 8 metres, caused some minor destruction and heavy erosion. In the East Cape a cyclone deforested an entire region, and caused the beach to be filled with debris and tree trunks. Cyclone are a great danger in New Zealand for the fact that they cause flooding, cause roads to collapse, and can cause loss of life.

One of the most chocking disasters that to have occurred in New Zealand happened with the express train number 949 that was travelling from Wellington to Auckland. It was Christmas eve, 24 of December 1953 and the train carried many families who were travelling to meet the relatives for the festive season. As the train was reaching the town of Waiouru, an avalanche of mud mixed with rocks and volcanic ash coming from the crater of the volcano Ruapehu, took the bridge out. Without knowing of the collapse of the bridge, at around 10.15 pm the train dived deep into the river, killing 131 people, with 20 more never being found.

Where it happened

Monument today

 Well all this is for you to know some of the things that can happen in New Zealand. It is not intended in any way to scare you, and should not discourage you in visiting this wonderful and beautiful place. During the 7 years that we lived in New Zealand, we went through several cyclones and a volcanic eruption, but at no time we felt threaten or scared for our lives. Enjoy NZ while you still can.

Result of a Cyclone on the East Cape

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