Earthquakes happen every day in New Zealand. Learn what to do before, during and after an earthquake to minimise risk to you and your family.

For general preparedness, every household should create and practice a Household Emergency Plan and assemble and maintain Emergency Survival Items and a Getaway Kit. In addition, every household should take earthquake-specific precautions and plan and practice what to do in the event of an earthquake.

Action messages

  1. Pick safe places in each room.
  2. Practice drop, cover and hold.
  3. Make sure your home and critical buildings are securely anchored to their foundations.
  4. Secure heavy objects both inside and outside the home.
  5. If you are outside, find a clear spot and drop to the ground.
  6. If you are inside when the shaking starts, move no more than a few steps to a safe place and drop, cover and hold.
  7. Expect aftershocks.
  8. Check yourself and then others.
  9. Look for fires.

Download our hazard app to help you make it safely through a disaster.

More information on how to prepare for an earthquake and what to do following an earthquake to minimise risk of injury:

Earthquakes - Civil Defence guide (PDF)

More about earthquakes

Instruments record the ground shaking from over 14,000 earthquakes in and around the country each year. Most are too small to be noticed, but between 150 and 200 are big enough to be felt.

Ground shaking from earthquakes can cause buildings and bridges to collapse; disrupt gas, electricity, and telephone services; and sometimes trigger landslides, avalanches, flash floods, fires, and tsunami. Buildings with foundations resting on unconsolidated landfill or other unstable soils are at increased risk of damage, as are homes not attached to their foundations.

In general, damage to buildings is the main cause of financial loss from earthquakes. Collapse of buildings is the main cause of casualties, either through crushing or entrapment. Loss of services is the main cause of people becoming displaced.

Learn if earthquakes are a risk in your area by contacting your local council.  Information about earthquake risk is also available on the GNS Science website.