We need to start planning now for how we respond to sea-level rise and associated coastal hazards like flooding, erosion and rising groundwater.

New Zealand is already experiencing the first impacts of climate change, with an increase in the frequency and intensity of storm events and droughts, and more areas exposed to coastal flooding and erosion.

Within the next 30 years, the Ministry for the Environment predicts that sea levels will rise by around 370 mm and by just over a metre by 2100.

For a low-lying, coastal city like Christchurch, this means around 25,000 properties will be exposed to coastal flooding, and around 1,000 properties will be at risk of coastal erosion over the next 100 years.

The Urban Development and Transport Committee has now endorsed the Coastal Hazards Adaptation Programme. Read the Coastal Hazards Adaptation Programme report.(external link)


We’re following the Ministry for the Environment’s Coastal Hazards and Climate Change Guidance for Local Government [PDF, 11MB](external link) which sets out a ten-step process for how we can adapt to the actual and expected changes from climate change.

It’s a process that puts community engagement at the centre of decision-making. It takes into consideration everything from our natural and ‘built’ environment to our cultural values, and community aspirations and expectations.

It also gives us a way to progress things and make decisions, even when there is uncertainty about the rate and effects of climate change.

We have identified our coastal and low-lying communities most at risk from coastal hazards.

At the end of this process, we’ll have community-led adaptation plans for these coastal and low-lying communities that provide us with a way of managing the risk of sea-level rise for at least the next 100 years.

These plans will identify pathways for how different communities could adapt. The pathways will have options and triggers (the local signals and observations) for when these pre-agreed options will need to be implemented.

We’re proposing to break our coastal hazards adaptation planning programme into three phases:

Phase 1: programme establishment

This phase is already well underway and is focused on setting things up, such as the Coastal Hazards Working Group(external link), and getting the information we need, such as commissioning an updated Coastal Hazards Assessment, appointing adaptation experts Royal Haskoning DHV to provide advice, and developing our processes. 

We’ve estimated this phase will take at least year and we are already about nine months in.

Phase 2: city-wide awareness and education

This is when we start the city-wide conversations. While coastal communities will lead their own plans, other parts of the city may be asked to contribute financially, and there may be impacts that are shared across the district.

It’s important we have a city-wide conversation about what kinds of options are on the table, the process for shortlisting them, and how things might be funded.

It’s also important that children and young people are involved in this conversation – climate change is an inter-generational issue and future generations will be living with the impacts of decisions made now.

We’ve estimated this phase will take at least six months, starting in the second quarter of 2021.

Phase 3: Adaptation planning with communities

This is when we start talking with specific communities. Because the timing and severity of sea-level rise impacts will vary across the district there is time for adaptation planning to occur in tranches.

This also better recognises the diversity of communities and the different approaches that may best suit each community. 

We’re proposing to start adaptation planning with some of the communities in the Whakaraupō / Lyttelton Mt Herbert area. We’ve estimated this phase will take at least 1.5 years to do properly and we’ll be starting it towards the end of 2021.

Here’s a map that shows areas at risk from coastal hazards in the next 100 years, and grouping and prioritisation of communities at risk. [PDF, 974 KB]

A collaborative agency approach is fundamental to the success of this work programme.  A significant partner for Council in this work is Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Papatipu Rūnanga, given the intrinsic values that Māori hold with whenua, wai and the environment. 

In recognition of this partnership, two rūnanga representatives are in the process of being appointed to the Coastal Hazards Working Group.

In addition, all critical aspects of the work programme to date have had input from Mahaanui Kurataiao Ltd on behalf of Ngāi Tahu.

Alignment with coastal environment planning work led by Environment Canterbury is also critical and two representatives of Environment Canterbury have joined the Coastal Hazards Working Group. 

Environment Canterbury has also provided significant staff input to support the development of the work programme to date.

Read more about the Coastal Hazards Working Group(external link). 

Coastal Hazards Working Group Terms of Reference [PDF, 644 KB].

Email us at engagement@ccc.govt.nz and we'll keep you up to date with the latest adaptation planning programme developments.

Got a question?

Get in touch with us at engagement@ccc.govt.nz.