Landslide in Kelson, Wellington, in 2006.

A landslide is a movement of soil, rock and debris down a slope. Landslides often occur as a result of other natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and floods.

Landslides are common throughout New Zealand. Serious landslides in built-up areas can cause thousands of dollars in damage and endanger lives. 

Before a landslide

  1. Ask your local council whether your property is in a location that is known to be at risk of landslides.
  2. Prepare an emergency response plan and kit.
  3. Keep alert for signs that the ground may be moving. You may notice:
  • new cracks in the ground
  • your home is off-level
  • landscaping features are on a lean. 

When a landslide is imminent

If you think a landslide is about to happen:

  1. evacuate your home immediately
  2. warn your neighbours
  3. contact the council.

After a landslide

  1. Stay away until authorities give the all-clear.
  2. Report broken utilities (water, gas, electricity) to the appropriate companies. 
  3. If you can, take photographs of the damage – this will help with your insurance claim later. 


  • Get Thru has more advice on how to prepare for and respond to a landslide.
  • GeoNet maintains a rapid response capability for landslides in New Zealand. 


Small landslides happen all the time, all over New Zealand. Our most deadly occurred in 1846, when heavy rains created a landslide that swept through the village of Te Rapa near Lake Taupo (Te Ara website). 60 people were killed.

More recently, numerous landslides were caused by Cyclone Wilma when it struck Northland, the outer islands of Auckland, the Coromandel and Whakatane on 29 January 2011 (Radio New Zealand website).

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