FOR FLOODING IN NEW ZEALAND
TO PREPARE FOR A FLOOD IN NEW ZEALAND
THERE ARE FOUR MAIN TYPES OF FLOOD IN NEW ZEALAND:
Rising rivers: During heavy rain rivers can overflow
their banks into the floodplain. A floodplain is the flat
section next to a river, and these can flood quite regularly.
2. Flash floods happen when heavy rain
falls in a small area with little warning.
3. Coastal areas can sometimes flood
because of unusually high tides or tsunami.
4. Urban areas have a lot of concrete
or hard surfaces which stop rainwater from soaking into
the soil, so it is channelled into storm water drains.
When the rain falls faster than the storm water system
can manage, we get urban flash flooding. These floods
usually happen very quickly and can block roads and damage
buildings. Luckily, they usually don’t last very
Flood waters can destroy the land and wash away or damage
roads, bridges, railway tracks and buildings. Crops can
be flooded and livestock drowned. People have to take
care and be prepared, particularly in flash floods where
fast-flowing water filled with debris can sweep people
away. The waters can even be strong enough to pick up
vehicles. After a major flood there will be a lot of damage
and pollution to clean up. It may take months or years
* Find out from your local council if your home or business
is at risk from flooding. Ask about evacuation plans and
local public alerting systems; how you can reduce the
risk of future flooding to your home or business; and
what to do with your pets and livestock if you have to
* Know where the closest high ground is and how to get
* Develop a Household Emergency Plan. Assemble and maintain
yourEmergency Survival Items for your home as well as
a portable getaway kit.
* Move animals and pets to safety.
* Store chemicals in a high, safe place. If a flood occurs
and these chemicals leak, they could be dangerous.
* Keep valuables and some food and water above the high
water mark. Attics or upstairs rooms are good places for
storage, as long as there is easy access.
* Check your insurance policy to ensure you have sufficient
A FLOOD IS IMMINENT AND DURING A FLOOD
* Listen to your local radio stations as emergency management
officials will be broadcasting the most appropriate advice
for your community and situation.
* If you have a disability or need support, make contact
with your support network.
* Put your household emergency plan into action and check
your getaway kit. Be prepared to evacuate quickly if it
* Where possible, move pets inside or to a safe place,
and move stock to higher ground.
* Consider using sandbags to keep water away from your
* Lift valuable household items and chemicals as high
above the floor as possible.
* Fill bathtubs, sinks and storage containers with clean
water in case water becomes contaminated.
* Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities as
it can help prevent damage to your home or community.
Unplug small appliances to avoid damage from power surges.
* Do not attempt to drive or walk through floodwaters
unless it is absolutely essential.
* It may not be safe to return home even when the floodwaters
have receded. Continue to listen to your local radio station
for civil defence instructions.
* Help others if you can, especially people who may require
* Throw away food including canned goods and water that
has been contaminated by floodwater.
* Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until
you are certain it is not contaminated. If in doubt, check
with your local council or public health authority.
* Look for and report broken utility lines to appropriate
* If your property is damaged, take notes and photographs
for insurance purposes. If you rent your property, contact
your landlord and your contents insurance company as soon
5 Tips to insuring in a flood zone
Floods are New Zealand’s number one hazard in terms
of frequency, losses and declared civil defence emergencies.
Floods damage property and can cause injury and loss of
life, as well as contaminating water and land. Historically
we associated flood risk with a small pocket of locations,
but we are now observing floods throughout all of New
Recently local councils have become a lot more proactive
in identifying problem areas that are at risk of flooding.
Geo Mapping is being used to identify areas that are flood
susceptible and at a risk of flooding. Generally areas
will be identified as low, medium or high risk and will
refer to the risk of flooding as a 1 in 100 year flood
event or 1 in 50 year flood event. Flooding can be described
as ponding, overland flow, and coastal inundation. Unfortunately
there is no single standard – meaning data, reporting
and risk management can vary from council to council.
Arm yourself with information
If you are purchasing a property in a coastal or low lying
area become a private investigator for a day. It is not
always enough to rely on the Real Estate Agent. A LIM
report will identify if the area or property have been
classified by the council as hazardous. The Certificate
of Title will inform you if a Section 36, 73 or 74 of
the Building Act has been issued. You can also go online
and find the property on the local councils geo map and
look for hazards. Alternatively you can visit or call
the council to find out more information.
Talk to a local
If the property or area is known to flood or at risk of
flooding ask neighbours and other locals about their experiences
with previous flooding. This is especially important if
you are new or unfamiliar with the area. It can also be
beneficial knowing who the current owner has been insured
with incase you do experience difficulties.
Be prepared to pay more
It is more than likely that you will be able to get insurance.
Unfortunately it wont always be with your first choice
of providers. You do need to accept that insurance on
your home in a flood prone area may cost more, or may
have special terms and will likely have a higher flood
excess. Typically you can expect to see the following
endorsements added to your insurance.
We will not pay for any costs of additional materials,
work or expense required solely to comply with Government
or local authority bylaws and regulations, if those costs
are required solely to meet the requirement of Government
or local authorities to reduce the exposure to a natural
hazard at the home.
An excess of $2,500 applies to any claim for water entering
the Home as a result of flood, or inundation by seawater,
replacing the excess shown in the schedule.
For the purpose of this endorsement, flood means the covering
of normally dry land:
i. by water that has escaped or been released from the
normal confines of:
a. any lake, or any river, creek or other natural watercourse,
whether or not altered or modified, or
b. any reservoir, canal or dam,
ii. by rain water pooling or failing to drain away
Has the risk been mitigated?
Sometimes the flood risk has already been minimised. The
home could have been built on high piles to avoid the
flood water. Or the council may have spent millions on
flood prevention. This type of information can be used
to sway an insurer when it comes to offering you and your
Is the property at risk of other hazards?
Flooding may not be the only issue. Check if the property
is also at risk of erosion, landslip or subsidence. Homes
in areas such as Clifton on the Hawke’s Bay coast
and coastal towns like Tapu on the Coromandel Peninsula
are at risk of floods, tsunami and erosion. Flood Risk
is not only a coastal issue. Devastating floods have been
caused by rainfall especially if that results in a river
bursting its banks, like in Edgecumbe.
The best way ensure you are getting the best terms is
to present your insurer with all the facts. Failure to
advise your insurer that your home is at risk of flooding
can result in non disclosure. The worst case scenario
is that your insurer will void your policy and your claim
wont get paid. In the best case scenario your insurer
will apply the terms / excess / premium to your policy
that it would have applied had they known of the risk,
and your claim will be paid.