Natural hazards  |  31 Mar 2021

The tsunami sirens along Christchurch’s coastline will undergo routine testing on Saturday morning at 11am.

The 45 sirens, which are located at strategic points between Brooklands and Taylors Mistake, will sound for up to two minutes.

“Normally we test the sirens on a Sunday at the beginning and end of daylight saving time but because the end of daylight saving time coincides this year with Easter, we are testing the sirens on Saturday rather than Sunday,’’ says Christchurch City Council Head of Civil Defence Emergency Management Rob Orchard.

“If you are near the coast on Saturday morning and you hear the tsunami sirens going off, you don’t need to evacuate or be alarmed. It is just routine testing to ensure the sirens are working correctly.’’

Mr Orchard says that work will begin shortly on an upgrade of Christchurch’s tsunami sirens.

The upgrade will involve making changes to the sound the sirens make and adding the capability for them to broadcast public messages during an emergency.

Upgrading the sirens will take two to three months to complete. The sirens will remain operational while the upgrades are carried out.

Mr Orchard says while Saturday’s siren testing is routine, it is important that people know what to do and where to go if there is a tsunami evacuation.

“While we are likely to get advanced warning of a distance-source tsunami triggered by a large earthquake overseas, if a tsunami is triggered by a very large earthquake closer to New Zealand people may need to evacuate quickly.

“In the event of a local or regional source tsunami, there may not be enough time to activate the warning sirens. In those circumstances, the most important warning is the earthquake itself, which is why we encourage people to adhere to the national tsunami message – ‘Long or strong, get gone’,’’ Mr Orchard says.

People can check Christchurch City Council's interactive online map to find out if they live or work in a tsunami evacuation zone. There are also evacuation tips on the Council website.