Always be prepared: The biggest risks for NZ in 2018

  • 23/02/2018

It's only February, and already New Zealand has been slammed with two cyclones, falling house prices and flooding.

But while the clean-up from Cyclone Gita gets underway, experts warn we could face even worse disasters this year.

Emergency advice:

  • Make sure your family has a clear plan of action should a disaster strike.
  • Stock up on water for drinking, flushing, cooking and showering. Apparently, each of us uses about 50 litres a day to fulfil basic daily functions, so fill up your containers with water.
  • Cash is king. If power is out and Eftpos machines are down, you can still use cash to top up on supplies, so make sure you have some around.
  • Make sure you're powered up. Charge up your phones, laptops and any other electronic devices, because it is quite difficult to get in touch with someone if your phone has a flat battery.

Here are the biggest risks for NZ in 2018.


The aftermath in Kaikoura.
The aftermath in Kaikoura. Photo credit: Newshub

Central New Zealand faces up to a 60 percent chance of a large earthquake within the next decade, GeoNet warns.

Worse, there's an up to 14 percent chance of a large earthquake striking us this year.

And if it does strike us, new research has found New Zealand is still not prepared to manage the disaster.

The study, published by the New Zealand Initiative, warns Wellington needs to be the focus now, as the "seat of government and most at risk for the next earthquake".

Housing crash

The housing market is already falling.
The housing market is already falling. Photo credit: Getty

Goldman Sachs says New Zealand's housing market is the most over-valued among the G-10 economies and there's a 40 percent chance it will go 'bust' by 2019.

A housing market bust has house prices falling 5 percent or more after adjustment for inflation.

The global finance company's report claims "prices do appear overvalued and credit growth has been high - traditional warning signs of real house-price declines".

There are signs the housing market is already slipping.

Last year, Auckland house prices have tumbled in the biggest fall since 2010. A new Real Estate Institute (REINZ) report shows median prices in Auckland fell by 3.2 percent year-on-year to $850,000.

Overall, the number of properties sold across New Zealand was down 16 percent to 5,689.

Volumes for New Zealand, excluding Auckland, were down 14 percent to 4057 and the Auckland sales count was down 21 percent to 1632.

Another cyclone

Cyclone Gita.
Cyclone Gita. Photo credit: DoC / Twitter

As climate change heats up sea temperatures, even worse cyclones could strike.

Cyclone Gita and Fehi have both wreaked havoc across New Zealand. The damage around the Nelson-Tasman coastline from Cyclone Fehi is so bad, some residents say they won't be returning to their homes.

As such events become more common, the Insurance Council is warning insurers may stop offering flood cover on some coastal properties.

"If it gets really bad, then insurers will have to really consider if they're willing to provide flood risk cover for those types of properties," says New Zealand Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton.

Economic crisis

Could a crash be on our way?
Could a crash be on our way? Photo credit: Getty

Before the last election, NZ First leader Winston Peters predicted a looming global slowdown.

"Beneath the veneer of stability, large risks are lurking in the global economy," he said.

"The prolonged era of ultra-cheap money has created expectations that this unprecedented period will continue forever.

"Fed by cheap money, share and property markets are at record levels, and have a long way to fall. In particular, the US share market has had an amazing run with barely a hiccup.

"In China, debt levels are staggering.

"Irrational exuberance rules. It is impossible to predict when, but something will go wrong and New Zealand should be prepared."

HSBC's chief economist in Australasia, Paul Bloxham, predicts growth will continue in New Zealand, but he's less optimistic about what's to come amid signs supply is drying up.

"Growth slowed a bit last year - the construction industry slowed down a bit - and that's one of the new themes for this year as well: 'What's slowing that down?'" he told The AM Show this week.


New Zealand is at risk.
New Zealand is at risk. Photo credit: Getty

In 2016, after the Kaikoura earthquake, New Zealand was struck by a 2m-high tsunami.

Tsunami expert Dr NAK Nandasena told Newshub that an undersea earthquake, like the magnitude-9.1 jolt that killed almost 20,000 people in Japan in 2011, is the biggest threat.

He believes Waiheke and Rangitoto could actually amplify tsunami waves coming into Auckland's Waitemata Harbour.

"The two islands can block some volume of tsunami water, so some damage would be reduced, but on the contrary, a tsunami can refract around the islands, which would result in more energy.

"It could release more energy compared to the situation when there are no islands. And the other factor is reflection from the two islands that also amplifies a bad situation."