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.

Argo deployment reaches new milestones

Argo deployment reaches new milestones

Kaharoa’s Argo deployment voyages to date.

John Hunt prepares to deploy an Argo float. (Photo: Mike Naidanovici, NIWA)

NIWA’s 28 m research vessel Kaharoa may merit a place in the Guinness Book of Records, having recently returned from a voyage to deploy a further 42 Argo floats. The floats bring the total deployed by Kaharoa to 439 over four years.

Bringing the harbour back to life

Bringing the harbour back to life

A team sets up a trial on the sandflats at Whangarei Harbour. (Photos: Vonda Cummings, NIWA)

Declining numbers of shellfish is recognised as a problem in many estuaries and coastal areas around New Zealand, and local communities who traditionally gather kai moana are becoming concerned for the future of their customary food source.
In Whangarei Harbour, the Kaitiaki Roopu (caretaker group) has been working with NIWA over the last few years in an innovative project to restore shellfish beds.

Land-use change and sedimentation

Bringing the harbour back to life

Argo deployment reaches new milestones

Ocean acidification - what impacts?

In the wake of the ferries

In the wake of the ferries
The sort of wake which can be a concern in Tory Channel. (Photo: Warren Thompson, NIWA)

NIWA-designed ‘Dobie’ data logger.

NIWA has recently completed work to measure the wake waves of the vessels of one Cook Strait ferry operator.
The safety and environmental impacts of wake waves of large commercial vessels are a concern in a number of places around the NZ coast, none more so than Tory Channel, the route of the Cook Strait ferries.

Bathymetric survey helps Cook Strait shipping

Identifying emerging contaminants of concern

Mahia's nuisance sediment

In the wake of the ferries

Rivers: the land-coast connection

Rivers: the land-coast connection

Gravel extraction, Waimakariri River, Canterbury. (Photo: above, Graham Fenwick, NIWA)

(Photo: above, Alistair McKerchar, NIWA)

NIWA scientists are developing models to predict the impact of changes in river sediment loads on coastal erosion. Rivers are a key connection between the land and the sea, carrying sand, gravel, and cobbles down river, and depositing them at the coast. This material is then redistributed and groundup by waves and currents.

What risk to human health?

What risk to human health?

Sequence of calculations to model health risks at a beach, either from swimming or from consumption of raw shellfish.

One of the direct consequences of land-based activities on the coast is the discharge of treated sewage into the sea. Pathogens (bacteria, protozoa, and viruses) in sewage can pose a risk to human health, through people swimming in polluted areas or eating contaminated shellfish.

Special Issue - Effects of land-based activities on the coastal environment

Special Issue – Effects of land-based activities on the coastal environment
New Zealand’s coastline is increasingly affected by land-based activities, particularly intensified agriculture and nitrate runoff, sewage disposal, coastal subdivision and sediment runoff, and heavy metal and contaminate runoff from urban centres into estuaries. Such issues are the focus of increasing and better environmental management practice.

The right time to focus on coasts & oceans

Ocean colour helps fishers

Monitoring Auckland's intertidal zones

A research vessel for all seasons

Vessels rise to Argo challenge

Tide advice for rescue centre

Picture perfect for port

Sounds surveyed

How green's the bay?

Big marine farm zone; small effect

Free workshop coming up

Marine Environment Classification launched

Building better offshore mussel farms

Where are the offshore minerals?

Modelling aquaculture effects in the Firth of Thames

To San Diego, via Chile

Habitat map for taiapure

When paua seek a home

Hear world experts on seafloor mapping

Ocean Survey 20/20 gets underway

What happens to nutrients in estuaries?

Sophisticated sonar for marine habitat mapping

Ashley Estuary in good shape

Bounty and Antipodes Islands surveyed

Up until November 2008, this was a joint quarterly update from the National Centre for Coasts and the National Centre for Oceans. The publication facilitates public, industry, and governmental access to NIWA's expertise and knowledge in coastal and ocean research.

Better tools mean improved knowledge and services

Smart buoy for coastal monitoring

A flexible way to model sediment dispersal

Getting intimate with aquatic sediments

GeoEel sees beneath the seafloor

Winds & Storms - Looking back at the Wahine Storm


Wave climate around New Zealand

Wave climate around New Zealand
NIWA has recently implemented a large wave model (NIWAM) for the oceans around New Zealand. This is based on WAM, a 3rd generation model which accommodates the processes of wind generation, white-capping and bottom friction, and includes a direct estimate of non-linear energy transfer through four-wave interactions. NIWAM has been established on a 1.125° resolution grid (see image below) covering the Southwest Pacific, New Zealand, Australia and the Southern Ocean.

Tsunami is a Japanese word meaning great wave in harbour

Verifying the wave model
The results from the model hindcast have been compared with data from wave buoys deployed at various times in the past at several sites around New Zealand (shown below).

Foveaux Strait Buoy
This was located in 100 m water depth. Model results were corrected for the effects of limited fetch to the coast before comparison with the data (shown below, click to enlarge).

Mangawhai Buoy
This was located in 30 m water depth, in a site sheltered by surrounding land, and affected by refraction of waves over the seabed topography the variable depth.

NIWA coordinates a network of remote video cameras, called Cam-Era, which regularly monitors coastal and river behaviour in real-time.

Sumatra tsunami recorded at 1-minute sampling intervals at 9 sites:
a) Date/time in NZ Standard Time (UTC+12), with earthquake (EQ) time shown.
b) Elapsed time in hours since the earthquake occurred.

Sumatra tsunami recorded at 5-minute sampling intervals at 19 sites:
a) Date/time in NZ Standard Time (UTC+12), with earthquake (EQ) time shown.
b) Elapsed time in hours since the earthquake occurred.

Tsunami run-up height reached up to 12 m in Khao Lak (Thailand) as shown by damage to tiles on roof.

Solar semidiurnal tide (S2) as an animation.

Waves from Satellites
Waves are available from a number of satellite sensors, including radar altimeters and synthetic aperture radar (SAR).

A radar altimeter aims a narrow beam directly downwards. From the spread in the return signal, the wave height can be measured.



All staff working on this subject

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