Why Should You Participate?

While earthquake hazard varies from region to region (see below), all of New Zealand is prone to earthquakes. You could be anywhere when an earthquake strikes- at home, at work, at school or on holiday.

New Zealand ShakeOut has been created to help people and organisations get better prepared for major earthquakes, and practice how to be protected when they happen. Everyone will practice "Drop, Cover and Hold"—the right action to take in an earthquake.

New Zealand ShakeOut also provides a fantastic opportunity for organisations and businesses to examine and review their own emergency preparedness arrangements. Families and households can create, review and practice their household plans.

Read on to learn more about earthquake hazards in your region and why you should Drop, Cover and Hold.


As a registered ShakeOut participant you will:

  • Be counted in the largest earthquake drill in New Zealand ever!
  • (Optional) Be included on lists of who is participating in your area
  • Be an example that motivates others to participate and get prepared
  • Be updated with ShakeOut news and other information about earthquakes and preparedness

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions


Earthquake hazards by region:

Ten to fifteen thousand earthquakes are recorded each year in and around New Zealand, but only about 150 of these are felt. New Zealand experiences many earthquakes because it is located across the boundary of two tectonic plates.

A large earthquake could happen anywhere in New Zealand
All of New Zealand is susceptible to earthquakes. However, there is a variation in the level of earthquake activity across the country. Wellington is considered one of the most active of New Zealand’s seismic regions and Auckland one of the least active. Large earthquakes can still occur in regions with lower activity or deemed lower in risk than others. This is best illustrated by the recent events in Christchurch. For earthquake information specific to your region, select your region from the drop down menu below.

Most of New Zealand’s seismic activity, including its major historic earthquakes, occurs within a broad zone of deformation (about 100km wide) that runs along the plate boundary from offshore East Cape to Fiordland.

What we can expect in the future?
Based on its seismic history, New Zealand should experience 10 to 20 magnitude 5 earthquakes and one magnitude 6 earthquake each year, and a magnitude 7 earthquake each decade. However, earthquakes are not evenly spread over time and they often occur in clusters. A damaging earthquake could happen at any time. At least a million New Zealanders (around 25 per cent of the population) are expected to experience shaking great enough to damage household contents and buildings in the next 50 years.

Historic large earthquakes
Examples of significant earthquakes in New Zealand include:

Links to further info
Further information on earthquakes in New Zealand can be found on the following websites:

Earthquake hazards by region:

Why Drop, Cover and Hold?

If you are in an earthquake in New Zealand, Drop, Cover and Hold is the right action to take. This advice has been reviewed by New Zealand and international researchers in light of the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 and is still:

  • If you are inside a building, move no more than a few steps, then Drop, Cover and Hold:
    • DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!),
    • Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
    • HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.
    Stay indoors till the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. In most buildings in New Zealand you are safer if you stay where you are until the shaking stops.

  • If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, you should find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines, then Drop, Cover and Hold. Stay there until the shaking stops.

  • 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.

Ground shaking during an earthquake is seldom the cause of injury. Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths are caused by collapsing walls and roofs, flying glass and falling objects. It is extremely important for a person to move as little as possible to reach the place of safety he or she has identified because most injuries occur when people try to move more than a short distance during the shaking.

Look around you now, before an earthquake. Identify safe places such as under a sturdy piece of furniture or against an interior wall in your home, office or school so that when the shaking starts you can respond quickly. An immediate response to move to the safe place can save lives. And that safe place should be within a few steps to two metres to avoid injury from flying debris.

Further information:

Drop, Cover and Hold is still the right action to take (PDF)

Visit www.getthru.govt.nz to find out what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

The ShakeOut website and registration system are services of SCEC, the Southern California Earthquake Center @ USC
New Zealand ShakeOut