New Zealand’s mountainous land, loose volcanic soil and frequent earthquake activity make landslides common in many parts of the country. The weather and people cutting into hills can also cause landslides that can endanger buildings, livestock and people.



A landslide is the movement of rock, soil and vegetation down a slope. Landslides can range in size from a single boulder in a rock fall to a very large avalanche of debris with huge quantities of rock and soil that spreads across many kilometres. Landslides are a serious geological hazard in many parts of New Zealand.

Heavy rainfall or earthquakes can cause a landslide. Human activities, such as removal of trees and vegetation, steep roadside cuttings or leaking water pipes can also cause landslides. Some warning signs are:

  • Small slips, rockfalls and sinking land at the bottom of slopes.
  • Sticking doors and window frames may mean the land is slowly moving under the house.
  • Gaps where window frames are not fitting properly.
  • Steps, decks, and verandas moving or tilting away from the rest of the house.
  • New cracks or bulges on the ground, road, footpath, retaining walls and other hard surfaces.
  • Tilting trees, retaining walls or fences.

It’s important to recognise the warning signs and act quickly.

What do we do before a landslide?

  • Find out from your council if there have been landslides in your area before and where they might occur again.

  • Check for signs that the ground may be moving.

  • Be alert when driving, especially where there are embankments along roadsides. Watch the road for collapsed pavements, mud, and fallen rocks.

What do we do during a landslide?

  • Act quickly. Getting out of the path of a landslide is your best protection.

  • Evacuate, taking your getaway items and your pets with you. Move livestock to safe paddocks if you can safely do so.

  • Warn neighbours who might be affected and help those who may need assistance to evacuate.

  • Contact emergency services and your local council to inform them of the hazard.

What do we do after a landslide?

  • Stay away from any landslides until they have been properly checked and officials give the all-clear.

  • Look for and report broken utility lines to appropriate authorities.

  • If your property or contents are damaged take notes and photographs when it is safe to do so. Contact your insurance company and inform your landlord if there is damage to your rental property.

Home learning

TamatiFind out more by reading online: Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.

Make sure your school has the names of three people who could pick you up if your usual person can’t be there.
Make a plan with your family to get through an emergency. Think about the things you need every day and work out what you would do if you didn't have them. 


Make your plan  – print it out, stick it on the fridge, make sure everyone knows the plan. 


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