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Tsunami hits New Zealand – full coverage

UPDATED 2.25pm Sunday 


Latest data still shows dangerous surges right across the east coast, particularly Gisborne and Napier.

The warning will be reviewed at 2:30pm today.

A tsunami surge of water measuring one metre has reached Northland, turning the normally placid harbour into a “washing machine”.

“The wave was approximately one metre. It sucks out and comes in. It takes a couple of minutes. They are very long waves,” said Jeroen Jongejans from his boat near the harbour entrance.

He said the water was discoloured indicating the energy level of the wave was very deep and had picked up debris from the harbour floor.

One of the marine markers indicating the course boats should take to get into the harbour was “violently shaking.”

He said the tidal flow was estimated to be about 12 knots which was very strong.

“It is very unusual for a body of water to move at that kind of speed.”

Mr Jongejans said he was in no danger but was in constant touch with civil defence authorities and was keeping a constant lookout for surges.

Kate Malcolm from Dive Tutukaka said there had been several strong surges in the marina and there had been a rise and fall in the water level of about a metre and a half.

“It has resulted in a washing machine action in the marina.

“The piles are moving around a lot when the surges come through. There is about 12 knots of current at the entrance when it comes through and the lines are quite tight on the vessels in the marina.”

She said normally the tidal flow was hardly noticeable in normal conditions and the 12 knot current was very unusual and very strong.

No damage had been reported.

“But some of the boats certainly looking like they were getting tossed around,” she said.

The flow arrived as Northlanders were repeatedly warned to stay away from beaches and not try to watch events.

Commercial ships in Auckland’s seaport, including a 2000-passenger cruise ship, have been evacuated to deep harbour as a tsunami approaches.Cruise ship Dawn Princess, which has a capacity of 1990 passengers, and other large commercial vessels have been moved to deep water east of Fergusson and outside Rangitoto Island in the Hauraki Gulf. confirms small rise in Auckland’s harbour in the past 30 minutes.

The latest information from Civil Defence shows surges of about 1.5m at the Chatham Islands, 30cm at East Cape and 40cm in Gisborne. Rana Solomon of Chatham Islands Council reported a surge height of 1.5 metres at Pitt Island in the Chathams, Civil Defence said.

Napier, Castlepoint, Tauranga and North Cape tsunami gauges are also showing initial activity of approximately 30cm.

Marsden Point oil refinery has suspended all operations pending further information on the severity of the tsunami.

Production controller Ted Rye said all operations at the country’s only oil refinery had been put on hold. “We’ve just had a report from a trader fishing boat out at the Hen and Chick islands, about 10 kilometers off the coast, and they have noticed quite a significant surge.”
A small ship which had been discharging its oil at the port this morning had also been stopped, Mr Rye said.

 In the small coastal town of Tutukaka in Northland marina staff have just seen a major drop in the water levels and were expecting a big surge soon.
A spokesman for Tutukaka marinan said staff were on alert for further surges.
“We’re just having a couple major surges right now, probably about to a 1m” .

The main railway line has been shut down in Kaikoura. KiwiRail spokesman Kevin Ramshaw said the line has been closed as a precaution.

Civil Defence has blocked off roads to Gisborne beaches after sea levels dropped suddenly ahead of a tsunami wave generated by the quake in Chile. One witness said that the water had been sucked out to lower than the low tide mark even though it was high tide.

The tsunami is also now being detected in Tauranga and Napier.

The Chatham Islands, Gisborne, East Cape and Castlepoint are first to see the waves this morning. Although the waves are small, an increase and then a drop in water levels is obvious. 

Civil Defence warns larger waves are possible well after the first waves arrive.

Earlier story

Small waves are starting to surge in and out of the Chatham Islands in the last 15 minutes and are beginning to gather momentum.As predicted, the initial 20cm wave wasn’t the largest as the water level recedes and then increases with a difference in total of just over a metre.

Christchurch’s Sumner Beach has been evacuated until at least 9am as part of this morning’s tsunami warnings.

Aucklanders ignore tsunami warnings in Te Atatu Peninsula this morning – Image /

A tsunami alert has been issued for the whole of New Zealand following an earthquake registering 8.8 on the Richter scale centred near the Chilean capital of Santiago.

A tsunami alert has been issued for the Pacific including New Zealand.

Civil Defence says it expects the first wave to reach New Zealand will come ashore at the Chatham Islands around 7.05 this morning and it is likely to be a metre high.

Civil Defence says it is not expecting a huge impact on land but people should stay out of the water and boats should be tied up, preferably in a sheltered place.

It is expected there will be a number of waves – and the first may not be the largest. Civil Defence says the waves may continue for several hours.

The waves are expected at St Clair in Dunedin at 8.29, New Brighton at Christchurch at 9.05, Wellington at Pencarrow Head at 8.25, and North Head at Auckland at 10.22.

CNN reports a 40-metre wave has hit the small island of Juan Fernandez, 700 kilometres off the coast of Chile. Tsunami alerts have been issued for 53 countries. They cover virtually all nations on the entire Pacific rim as well the islands of the Pacific Ocean, including Fiji, Nauru, the Solomons, Vanuatu, Kermadec Island, the two Samoas,Tonga, Kiribati, and the Cook Islands. 

CNN reports a 40-metre wave has hit the small island of Juan Fernandez, 700 kilometres off the coast of Chile. Tsunami alerts have been issued for 53 countries. They cover virtually all nations on the entire Pacific rim as well the islands of the Pacific Ocean, including Fiji, Nauru, the Solomons, Vanuatu, Kermadec Island, the two Samoas,Tonga, Kiribati, and the Cook Islands.

EARLIER STORY believes that New Zealand won’t be “devastated” by the waves but do say that eastern beaches will be “especially dangerous” on Sunday.

Head weather analyst Philip Duncan, who has been watching the events unfold all night, says New Zealanders need not fear, but should be prepared.  “We have a very settled Sunday across the country thanks to a large high but boaties, swimmers and residents along the east coast must be aware of the heightened risk of the sea from the east today”,

Mr Duncan says while waves may only be 20cms to 1 metre above normal rips and ‘random monster waves’ may be deadly to beachgoers.

“We don’t want to panic people…but we suggest you wait until the ‘all clear’ is signalled, most likely on Sunday night, before heading out to sea on the east coast”. says that all eastern beaches from the Far North to Dunedin will be at risk from sunrise on Sunday until ‘sometime’ in the afternoon.

Civil Defence:  Scientific advice is that a marine threat (threat to beach and small boats) exists for the entire east coasts of the North and South Islands from Puysegur around to Cape Reinga and extending south to Ahipara. Some land threat also exists with expected wave heights between 1 and 3 metres for the Chatham Islands and Banks Peninsula. Wave height refers to maximum water level relevant to the normal sea level at the beach. This does not take tides into account. Based on historical events it is expected that the greatest wave heights will occur between 6 and 12 hours after the initial arrivals.

People in coastal areas should:

1. Stay off beaches
2. Stay out of the water (sea, rivers and estuaries, including boating activities)
3. Share this information with family, neighbours and friends
4. Listen to the radio and/or TV for updates
5. Follow instructions of your local Civil Defence authorities.

***Please do not go sightseeing***




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