Latest news

New NIWA-led research shows increasing flood risk is going to be what leads people to make changes to adapt to sea-level rise.
With cascading waterfalls and native bush tumbling down mountainous terrain, Fiordland is one of the most eye-catching parts of the country. But peer beneath the waves and you'll see that Fiordland's marine invertebrate and seaweed communities are every bit as remarkable and awe-inspiring.
A project is under way to determine whether Aotearoa New Zealand’s long defunct rock oyster industry can be revived.
A pilot study carried out by NIWA and the University of Auckland has found microplastics in samples collected from the seafloor in the Marlborough Sounds.

Our work

We need information on the food web structures of our marine ecosystems in order to manage the effects on the ecosystem of fishing, aquaculture and mining, as well as understanding the potential impacts of climate variability and change on our oceans. 

NIWA is looking for people who have had a long association with the Hauraki Gulf or Marlborough Sounds to help them with a research project on juvenile fish habitats.

NIWA is developing guidelines and advice to help coastal communities adapt to climate change.

Most of the plastic in the ocean originates on land, being carried to the estuaries and coasts by rivers. Managing this plastic on land before it reaches the river could be the key to stemming the tide of marine-bound plastics. The aim of this project is to understand the sources and fate of plastic pollution carried by urban rivers using the Kaiwharawhara Stream as a case study.

Latest videos

Dive into the alien world of plankton in the Ross Sea

Plankton are the base of the oceans food web and are vital to our survival. But as our world changes will they be able to continue to play this essential role? Join us as we follow a group of NIWA scientists investigating various aspects of this question in the ocean around Antarctica.

Shifting Sands - Tsunami hazard off Kaikoura, NZ

Dr Joshu Mountjoy discusses NIWA's work in assessing the tsunami hazard just south of Kaikoura. 

Find out more about this research. 

Antarctic Coastal Marine Life in a Changing Climate

NIWA marine ecologist Dr Vonda Cummings discusses the likely effects of climate change on marine invertebrates living on the seafloor of the Ross Sea coast.

Next Stop Antarctica

Our Far South is an expedition that aims to raise New Zealanders' awareness of the area south of Stewart Island. Gareth Morgan, Te Radar, scientists and 50 everyday Kiwis are onboard to learn and then share their experience. This is the first video produced by them, showing some of the highlights of the trip so far.

Coasts Update brings you news of coastal research, events, and workshops at NIWA.

Sign up to the Coasts Update.

Useful information and resources on New Zealand's marine flora and invertebrate fauna.
A powerful magnitude 8.0 earthquake ruptured the seafloor south of Samoa on 30 September 2009, unleashing a destructive tsunami on Samoa, American Samoa, and northern Tonga (Niuatoputapu).
Ocean acidification is the name given to the lowering of pH of the oceans as a result of increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

Watch scientists and crew battle icy conditions in the Ross Sea during New Zealand's International Polar Year Census of Antarctic Marine Life voyage, led by NIWA in 2008.

Estuaries are highly valuable systems that provide enormous economic and cultural benefits to all kinds of people. However, expanding human populations and urban development around estuaries is increasing contaminant loads, with metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) accumulating in sediments.
Ngā Waihotanga Iho, the estuarine monitoring toolkit for Iwi, has been developed to provide tangata whenua with tools to measure environmental changes in their estuaries. While Ngā Waihotanga Iho is based on sound science principles, it is also underpinned by tangata whenua values.
This programme is about providing improved knowledge of the causes and potential consequences of coastal hazards in New Zealand, and how often they might pose a threat.

New Zealand’s diverse seafloor sediments

New Zealand’s diverse seafloor sediments

New Zealand’s diverse seafloor sediments

This stunning poster updates the last New Zealand regional sediment chart, published in 1989, using new multibeam bathymetry as well as archived and previously unpublished distributions of seafloor sediments.
Available for $28, AO size (700mm x 1000mm) To order a copy go to
or email: [email protected]

Modelling shellfish larval dispersal

Underwater canyon mapping reveals more seafloor secrets

Preparing for the effects of climate change in coastal areas

New Zealand’s diverse seafloor sediments

Tangaroa upgrades undersea currents technology

Tangaroa upgrades undersea currents technology

Tangaroa during dry dock. (Photo: Brett Grant, NIWA)

Display of current speed through Cook Strait region as measured by the new ADCP.

The recent Tangaroa dry-dock at Devonport Naval Base in Auckland provided the ideal opportunity to install a new Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) - one of the most important tools on NIWA’s iconic research vessel.
ADCPs provide three dimensional current data from beneath the ship by measuring the frequencyshift (or Doppler shift) in echoes reflected from free-floating particles or plankton.

Where do baby oysters go?

Where do baby oysters go?

The aim: more of these – a premium Nelson oyster. (Photo: Stephen Brown, NIWA)

Modelling the dispersal of oyster larvae, to predict distribution of newly settled larvae or ‘spat’, in Tasman Bay, is a new challenge for NIWA scientists.

No-fish zone protects life on the seabed

No-fish zone protects life on the seabed

Grab samples showing the amount of biomass from the fished zone (left), and the protected zone (right). (Photo: Sean Handley, NIWA).

Seabed communities at Separation Point, Nelson, have been left more-or-less untouched since 1980, when the area was closed to power fishing. NIWA scientists studying the communities have found clear evidence of the benefits of that protection.
The area, between Tasman and Golden Bays, was closed to protect various species of bottom-dwelling (benthic) bryozoans living on the soft seafloor sediment.

Colour clues to ocean productivity

Colour clues to ocean productivity

Ocean colour measured by mean chlorophyll concentrations in phytoplankton, from the SeaWifs satellite ocean colour dataset 1997–2007.

The changing colour of the oceans has been captured by satellites over many years, and NIWA scientists are now analysing the images in a bid to understand ocean productivity.
Ocean colour varies through the seasons, according to the amount of phytoplankton (microscopic algae) at the ocean’s surface.

New methane-munching bacteria discovered

New methane-munching bacteria discovered

Methane plumes(vertical shapes) at the undersea Wairarapa methane seep.

An unusual group of methanotrophs – bacteria which digest methane – has been identified by NIWA scientists investigating the fate of undersea methane seeps in the Cook Strait-Wairarapa region.
The bacteria were collected in water samples from the methane seep plumes, at a depth of around 1000 m.

More vast underwater canyons revealed

More vast underwater canyons revealed

Bathymetry (water depth) map of the Moeraki, Haast, Waiatoto, Arawata, and Cascade Canyons off South Westland.

NIWA geologists have mapped more vast underwater canyons off South Westland, including the biggest yet.
Multibeam sonar mapping of the Hokitika and Cook Canyons from RV Tangaroa in 2005 revealed complex, meandering rivers and deep ravines which dwarf any features seen on land in New Zealand.

Modelling the early life of Antarctic toothfish

Huge undersea landslide discovered in Cook Strait

New methane-munching bacteria discovered

More vast underwater canyons revealed

Wellington hosts international deepsea coral symposium

Over the past couple of days Tangaroa has come through rough seas although the conditions have not managed to dampen our spirits on this exciting journey.
We have departed and so our adventure begins!

New Zealand conducted a major biological survey of the Ross Sea, in the Antarctic, as part of the Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML) and International Polar Year (IPY).

The changing map of Antarctica

The changing map of Antarctica

Scott Island and the adjacent 60 m high Haggitts Pillar. (Photo: John Mitchell, NIWA)

The seas of Antarctica are amongst the most inhospitable in the world, so it is not too surprising that historically their mapping has left a lot to be desired.
That is changing, however, as NIWA’s research vessel Tangaroa carries scientists to Antarctica to survey islands and map the seabed.



All staff working on this subject

Principal Scientist - Ecosystem Modelling
Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
Regional Manager - Nelson
Hydrodynamics Scientist
placeholder image
Strategy Manager - Coasts & Estuaries
placeholder image
Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
Senior Regional Manager - Wellington
Strategy Manager - Oceans
placeholder image
Marine Invertebrate Systematist
placeholder image
Coastal and Estuarine Physical Processes Scientist
Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
placeholder image
Physical Oceanographer
Principal Scientist - Coastal and Estuarine Physical Processes
Fisheries Scientist
placeholder image
Coastal Technician
placeholder image
Marine Ecology Technician
Subscribe to RSS - Coasts