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Tsunami evacuation dynamics in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula after the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake


This research uses the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake and tsunami as a case study of evacuation behaviour during a real-world event. A survey was undertaken with coastal communities across Banks Peninsula and Christchurch, asking about reactions to tsunami warnings, pre-evacuation actions and evacuation movements.

Key findings show that despite 38% of respondents identifying earthquake shaking as a natural warning for tsunami, most respondents relied on receiving official warnings to evacuate. 39% of respondents also delayed their evacuation departure to seek official information, and of those that evacuated, 96% evacuated by car. This led to congestion, particularly in more densely populated Christchurch city suburbs.

An evacuation model was then developed for Banks Peninsula, informed by the survey data. Results show that if evacuees know how to respond to tsunami warnings, how to evacuate, and where to go to, there are no issues. However, if people do not evacuate immediately, or there are issues with the roading network, and/or people are uncertain about evacuation logistics (e.g. where to go, how to evacuate), evacuation times increase. The results highlight the importance of effective tsunami education and evacuation planning.


Emergency management relevance

This research assesses how people in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula evacuated after the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake, which can be used to help evacuation planning and community response plans.


Additional information

Authors: Danielle Barnhill

Date: 2020

Funders: Christchurch City Council, Environment Canterbury, Natural Hazards Research Platform, Mason Trust Fund

Format: Master of Science thesis - University of Canterbury

Reference: Barnhill, D. (2020). Tsunami evacuation dynamics following the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula, New Zealand, to inform tsunami evacuation modelling for Banks Peninsula