Ka piki te tai moana i te takiwā
Sea level rise in the capital

Sea level rise and changes in weather patterns means Wellington could look very different in the future.

As a coastal city built on a harbour, we are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, particularly rising sea levels and severe weather events.

As the sea level rises, we can expect to experience more:

  • coastal flooding
  • storm surges
  • river flooding
  • coastal erosion.

This could mean the ‘1-in-100 year’ floods we've experienced in the past start occurring every year.

The most recent report from the International Panel on Climate Change highlights that even with the most drastic cuts to emissions, sea levels will continue to rise for centuries because of past emissions.

Sea level rise and flooding could potentially affect every community in Wellington.

Did you know? In the last 200 years, the sea level in New Zealand has risen 20 centimetres. In just the next 40 years, we can expect it to rise 30 centimetres.

What's happening right now

This isn't the distant future–we are experiencing these challenges right now.

Some examples include:

  • water infrastructure in the central city becoming submerged at high tide.
  • storm surges going further inland, eroding beaches and coastal roads.
  • stormwater pipes discharging less and less water during storm and high tide events, due to ‘hydraulic locking’ of the pipes.

Sea level rise map

The Greater Wellington Regional Council Sea Level Rise Modelling map will help you understand what sea level rise could look like for Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

Explore the map and change the layers to see what it might mean for your home, school, or workplace.

GWRC sea level modelling map

It's clear from the evidence that we'll continue to face rising sea levels well into the future. We'll need to come together to assess firstly how this will affect our coastal communities, then how we'll respond.

Our best chance at limiting the most extreme sea level rise is for everybody to reduce their emissions as quickly as possible and to work together to prepare our communities for the changes to come.

For more information on how we're planning to adapt to climate change and sea level rise, visit Action area: Adaptation.