Hazards in your District


Earthquakes can affect all or part of the District and cause disruption to power, telephone services, public utilities and transportation.  The majority of these occur along the Alpine Faultline that forms the western boundary of the District and the Hope Faultline that passes through the Hanmer Springs Basin.  Smaller, reasonably active faultlines are found at Amberley and Waikari.  The Waikari Faultline extends north east from Waikari to Motunau Beach. The Kaiwara Faultline extends through the township of Cheviot.
If a major earthquake was to strike the District, access to many of the communities will be restricted due to road damage. For more information on earthquakes, visit the GeoNet Project.


The Hurunui District is climatically dry and hot during the summer periods.  There is also a large number of privately owned exotic forests spread throughout the District.  Native tussock and snowgrass cover the hill and high country and marrum grass and coastal tussock are found along the east coast of the District.  There are extensive areas of indigenous forests throughout the District but more-so in the State Forest areas to the west.
Burning off as a management tool is carried out regularly by farmers in the hill and high country. The burning of slash as a result of land-clearing in the exotic forest areas takes place occasionally. 
Hanmer Springs Township extends up to the boundary of Carter Holt Harvey Forest and there is a direct threat to the safety of residents and property should a major fire breakout in this area.
Any major fire in the District can threaten the public and cause the loss of lives and may cause damage to public utilities, disrupt power and communication services


While the major rivers in the District are generally well contained there is a potential for erosion damage which could threaten some populated areas and cause severe surface flooding.

Tips on cleaning up after a flood.

Environment Canterbury has established volume measuring stations on both the Waiau and Hurunui rivers.

Heavy Snowfalls

Most of the District can be subjected to snowstorms during winter months. While these may cause disruptions to farming, telephones, power supply, road and rail services and the isolation of townships, there is seldom any real risk to human life, apart from the need to rescue people stranded in motor cars or in isolated back country areas.
A heavy snowstorm would have the potential for isolation of communities and farms and economic disaster.
An Adverse Events Plan has been produced for the District and a copy of this is attached as an appendix to this Plan.

Man-Made - Including Industrial Explosion

The storage of liquid fuels throughout the District poses a threat.  Several commercial garages have bulk storage L P G tanks installed in urban zones.
Hazardous substances such as fossil fuels, bulk L P G , bulk resins and dangerous goods are stored and transported through the District by road and rail.  Accidents with these substances have occurred over the years.

Cyclonic Storms

Cyclonic storms and very high winds can be experienced throughout the District.  Gale force winds in 1975 created a Civil Defence alert, but on this occasion, Police, emergency services and local Councils dealt with the problem.


Tsunami have been recorded on the New Zealand eastern coastline.  They can be created either in waters close to New Zealand or elsewhere in the Pacific
Devastating Tsunami has occurred in various parts of the Pacific Ocean and therefore can pose a threat to the low-lying coastal areas of the District.
Little research has been carried out to establish the Tsunami threat on coastal communities within the District.

Coastal Erosion

Most of the coastal areas of the District are of a limestone formation and erosion of the cliff faces is common.  The cliffs at Motunau Beach are now recognised as a hazard zone.


New Zealand is particularly prone to storms as it lies in the 'Roaring Forties', where mild-temperature air from the north meets cooler air from the south. Hazards include loss of power and communications, falling trees and poles, fast-flowing currents in streams and rivers, snowstorms, landslips and flooding.  Most of the district can be subject to heavy snowfalls during the winter months.  Cyclonic storms and very high winds can also be experience throughout the District.  Coastal areas in the District are of a limestone formation and erosion of the cliff faces is common.  The cliffs at Motunau Beach are now recognised as a hazard zone.