New Zealand 'high-risk' for almost every natural disaster possible

A new report has highlighted just how vulnerable New Zealand is to natural disasters.

The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery - funded by the World Bank the EU and others - has looked at the risks posed by earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and more across the world.

The latest data has been compiled into an online tool called ThinkHazard. Users can look at the overall risk factors for entire countries, or drill down to cities and regions.

New Zealand as a whole is ranked high-risk for almost every possible catastrophe, except extreme heat and water scarcity.

The disasters we need to prep for, according to ThinkHazard are: 

Wildfires - Each year there's a 50 percent chance or greater a wildfire will result in loss of life or property. Climate change is making areas prone to wildfires even more dangerous. The only region not ranked high-risk is the Bay of Plenty.

Rangitoto - a volcano.
Rangitoto - a volcano. Photo credit: File

Volcanoes - Most of the North Island is located within reach of a volcano that's erupted sometime in the last 2000 years. Northlanders have a little less to worry about than the rest, while Wellingtonians and those in the South Island are unlikely to be in harm's way.

Floods - "Potentially damaging and life-threatening urban floods are expected to occur at least once in the next 10 years," with the most at-risk regions the West Coast and upper South Island.

Landslides - It's hard to say where they might happen "as these depend on local geological conditions and other non-climatic factors", but one look at State Highway 1 near Kaikoura shows how devastating they can be.

Tsunami - There's a more than 20 percent chance of a potentially damaging tsunami in the next 50 years - perhaps even higher if climate change pushes up sea level.

Landslide following the Kaikoura quake of 2016.
Landslide following the Kaikoura quake of 2016. Photo credit: Getty

Earthquake - The South Island's most at risk, as virtually every Kiwi would already have guessed by now. ThinkHazard says there's a greater than 20 percent chance of a potentially damaging quake in New Zealand over the next 50 years. The further north you go past Wellington, the lower the risk.

River flood - A potentially life-threatening flood caused by a river overflowing is expected to happen at least once every 10 years, most likely in the Waikato - where the country's longest river resides.

Cyclone - While climate change may reduce the number of cyclones that reach New Zealand, ThinkHazard says those that do are likely to be stronger than in the past. It gives a more than 20 percent chance of a cyclone with "potentially damaging wind speeds" in the next decade.