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Tsunami evacuation dynamics in Kaikoura after the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake


This research utilises the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake and tsunami as a case study of evacuation behaviour during a real-world event. A survey was undertaken with Kaikōura residents, asking about reactions to tsunami warnings, pre-evacuation actions and evacuation movements.

Key findings show that prior to this event, respondents had a ‘good’ or ‘very good’ level of knowledge on tsunami hazard and evacuation requirements. Resultantly, 69% of respondents evacuated, and 95% of those who resided in evacuation zones evacuated. Reported traffic congestion occurred because of road and bridge damage, adding minutes to evacuation time. 55% of respondents evacuated before the first tsunami wave arrived (within 10 minutes) and 90% of respondents evacuated before the largest wave arrived (within 40 minutes).

A network-based evacuation model was then developed, informed by the survey data. The model shows that under an ‘ideal’ night-time scenario, it takes 12 minutes for all the residents of Kaikōura township to evacuate. This is concerning as a local-source tsunami could arrive at the coast within minutes.


Emergency management relevance

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


Additional information

Authors: Laura Tilley

Date: 2020

Funders: Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s National Science Challenge: Resilience to Nature's Challenges, Natural Hazards Research Platform, Mason Trust Fund

Format: Master of Science thesis - University of Canterbury

Reference: Tilley, L. R. (2020). Assessing tsunami evacuation behaviour and dynamics of a near-source threat – the case study of Kaikōura township following the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake