New Zealand will need to abandon some coastal areas - climate change expert

A climate change expert is warning we're going to reach a point where weather gets so bad we'll have to abandon some of our seaside cities and towns.

"We have to decide which areas we are going to protect, and which areas we're going to have to retreat from," Dr Jim Salinger told The Project on Thursday.

"Fourteen of our 17 largest towns and cities are coastal. Then we've got all the infrastructure like rail and road that connects them. So really we have to survey the lot then make the large decisions."

Another extreme storm could be about to smash into us next weekend. A disturbing weather pattern is building up in the Pacific - and weather forecaster Philip Duncan says it could be worse than Fehi, which left roads destroyed and houses uninhabitable.

If flooding continues to hit the same places, insurers might stop offering insurance to cover the clean-up costs.

"If it gets really bad, then insurers will have to really consider whether or not they will be providing flood risks coverage for those sorts of properties," Insurance Council CEO Tim Grafton said earlier in February.

Last year was the most expensive year in insured losses for weather and disaster related events in nearly 50 years.

"The increase in weather losses is because of an increase in weather events causing [the] losses," Mr Grafton said last year. 

And the future is expected to get worse.

Auckland Council recently warned the likelihood of "high intensity rainfall events" will increase due to climate change, and around 137,000 buildings in the Auckland region are at risk of flooding.