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Why Should You Participate?

Everyone, everywhere should know the right action to take before, during and after an earthquake. 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 practise ‘Drop, Cover and Hold’ - the right action to take during an earthquake.

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

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


Once you’ve registered for New Zealand ShakeOut you will:

  • Do the Drop, Cover and Hold drill with the rest of the country at 9:15am, 15 October 2015
  • Be part of the world’s largest earthquake drill
  • Learn and show others the right actions to take before, during and after an earthquake wherever you are
  • Get the latest news and tips on the New Zealand ShakeOut drill and how to prepare for earthquakes


Regional Earthquake Information:

Twenty thousand earthquakes are recorded each year in and around New Zealand, but only about 300 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 50 magnitude 5 earthquakes and two magnitude 6 earthquakes each year, four magnitude 7 earthquake per decade, and a magnitude 8+ earthquake every century. 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.

Historical 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:

Why Drop, Cover and Hold?

If you are in an earthquake in New Zealand, Drop, Cover and Hold is still the right action to take. This is the drill that has been taught to school children for many years, and is what we continue to promote around the country. The advice can be summarised as:

  • 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 outside, move 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 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 Step 1: Secure it now! Step 2: Make a plan Step 3: Make disaster kits Step 4: Is your place safe? Step 5: Drop, Cover, and Hold On Step 6: Check it out! Step 7: Communicate and recover!