NEW ZEALAND'S ONLY RECORDED KILLER TSUNAMI
New Zealand has experienced about 10 tsunamis higher than
5m since 1840. Some were caused by distant earthquakes,
but most by seafloor quakes not far off the coast. The
only tsunami recorded to have killed anyone in New Zealand
holds valuable lessons 150 years on, scientists say.
known as the Arica earthquake, measuring somewhere between
8.5 and 9.0 in magnitude, ruptured across some 600km of
seafloor off the coast of Peru on August 14, 1868. Killing
an estimated 25,000 people in Chile and Peru, the quake
also triggered a tsunami that hit the Chatham Islands
after a 15-hour roll across the Pacific.
1am on August 15, people in the village of Tupuangi on
the northwest coast of Chatham Island awoke to a loud
roar as a massive wave surged inland. Three destructive
waves hit within an hour, the largest standing 6m high.
Three families were washed away and survivors scrambled
to higher ground and were left with nothing. Another
man was killed as he tried to secure a boat.
tsunami stripped the land of vegetation including large
trees, leaving only sand and boulders, and unusual waves
and strong currents continued for another 24 hours. Later,
the tsunami travelled another 800km to New Zealand's mainland,
where Banks Peninsula, Oamaru, Timaru, and Port Chalmers
in Dunedin took the brunt of the impact. At
the Port of Lyttelton, waves reaching over 7m high ripped
boats from their moorings and caused widespread damage.