Coasts

Latest news

Two reports released today by NIWA and the Deep South National Science Challenge reveal new information about how many New Zealanders, how many buildings and how much infrastructure could be affected by extreme river and coastal flooding from storms and sea-level rise.

NIWA puts a lot of things in the ocean—instruments tied to moorings, floats that dive up and down measuring what’s going on in the water, and video cameras that monitor fish.

Huge mudslides from November’s earthquakes have wiped out all organisms living in the seabed of the Kaikōura Canyon.

New Zealand continues to punch above its weight in global environmental issues, with three Kiwis seeking a positive change to our oceans in Washington this month.

Our work

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.
Seagrass beds form an important undersea habitat for small fish, seahorses and shellfish in New Zealand.

Latest videos

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.

Foveaux Strait M2 Tidal Component

This animation shows the chief tidal current in Foveaux Strait. Tidal currents on the west coast of Stewart Island are small, but around the northern and southern coasts of the island and in Bluff Harbour and Oreti Estuary there are strong tidal currents. Overall currents (not shown here) in Foveaux Strait however, are strongly wind-driven with the prevailing wind being from the west. The Southland current, which carries water from the subtropical convergence west of New Zealand, flows through Foveaux Strait.

Tide forecasts, Sea-level network, Tidal model of New Zealand’s EEZ and Red-alert days for coastal flooding
NZ has a range of different types of coasts, and so very different coastal erosion and sediment systems.

Cook Strait M2 Tidal Component

Currents in the Cook Strait are made up of many different components, chiefly the tidal and storm driven currents.

The tidal current shown here is the main component of currents around Banks Peninsula.

The study team is interdisciplinary and includes sedimentologists, physicists, oceanographers, and modellers working on a range of research projects within the programme.
Publications from the physical hazards team.

New Zealand's icy visitors - past and present

New Zealand's icy visitors - past and present

Scour marks of the seabed were probably made by an iceberg measuring between 2 and 5 km long.

November saw some unusual visitors to New Zealand waters, with several icebergs reaching the South Island’s east coast. NIWA oceanographer Dr Mike Williams estimated that the bergs probably came from the Ronne Ice Shelf on the other side of Antarctica.

Estuary health check

Estuary health check
Scientists from NIWA and Canterbury University are developing a diagnostic toolkit to assess the health of the Avon-Heathcote Estuary before and after a new wastewater outfall is installed.
Treated wastewater has been discharged into the estuary for about 40 years. The high levels of nutrients it contains may be responsible for problem blooms of sea lettuce in summer.

Customary Coastal Management Workshop

Customary Coastal Management Workshop

Karengo harvest at Mahia. (Photo: Sheryl Miller, NIWA)

21–22 June, Te Papa, Wellington.
NIWA’s National Centres for Coasts & Oceans and Fisheries & Aquaculture will host a workshop to highlight how increased scientific knowledge can advance customary management of the coastal environment.
Increasingly, iwi and managers of taiapure and mātaitai (traditional fishing grounds) have regulatory responsibilities for customary management of the coastal environment and kaimoana resources.

A flexible way to model sediment dispersal

A flexible way to model sediment dispersal

Water depth in the Middle Waitemata Harbour, represented on a flexible grid.

NIWA has recently upgraded its modelling software for simulating the dispersal of sediments and contaminants in coastal waters.
The new software represents water depth on a ‘flexible grid’. This allows the user to zoom in on water flow and sediment transport in areas that are complicated or of particular interest, such as valuable habitats or near stormwater discharges.

GeoEel sees beneath the seafloor

GeoEel sees beneath the seafloor

Profile of sedimentary basins in the Gulf of California. Scripps Institute of Technology

Ever wished you had Superman’s X-ray vision? Our new digital seismic streamer is the next best thing.
The ‘GeoEel’ streamer is an array of 768 hydrophones towed behind a ship. The hydrophones pick up sound signals reflected off sedimentary layers and geological structures up to 3 km beneath the seabed.

Sophisticated sonar for marine habitat mapping

Sophisticated sonar for marine habitat mapping

Map of seafloor habitat types on Wellington’s south coast.

NIWA vessels’ multibeam sonar capabilities offer a rapid, accurate means of mapping marine habitats, with myriad applications.
NIWA recently applied this technology to map 46 square kilometres of seafloor habitats in and around the proposed Taputeranga Marine Reserve on Wellington’s south coast, in conjunction with Victoria University and the Department of Conservation.
Combining the shallow water capabilities of survey launch Pelorus and RV Kaharoa enabled the team

Ocean Survey 20/20 gets underway

Ocean Survey 20/20 gets underway

An orange roughy swims above a stony coral reef on the Pyre seamount, northern Chatham Rise, at a depth of 1020 m.

RV Tangaroa spearheaded the first of the Government’s Ocean Survey 20/20 (OS 20/20) projects last month with the first of three voyages to the Chatham Rise and Challenger Plateau.
OS 20/20 is a long-term Government strategy to survey and explore New Zealand’s oceans, including those around Antarctica, to better manage and sustainably use their resources.
Little is known about the biodiversity of New Zealand’s offshore seabed

Ashley Estuary in good shape

Ashley Estuary in good shape

Ashley Estuary

Environment Canterbury (ECan) commissioned NIWA to survey the central and southern portion of the Ashley Estuary following its designation as an Area of Significant Natural Value.
The survey was to provide baseline information on the estuary’s intertidal sediments and associated biota (plant and animal life), and to compare the current state of the sediments with their condition when last surveyed in 1982.
Results showed that the organic content of the sediments was generally low.

Bounty and Antipodes Islands surveyed

Bounty and Antipodes Islands surveyed

Antipodes

NIWA has recently submitted results of hydrographic surveys of the Bounty and Antipodes Islands to Land Information New Zealand (LINZ).
These rugged, uninhabited islands lie in subantarctic waters 650 to 850 km southeast of New Zealand, forming the southeastern sector of our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The seafloor around the islands was mapped from RV Tangaroa last year using high-resolution multibeam echosounding equipment.

Workshop explores coastal

Workshop explores coastal

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Morgan Williams (centre) with NIWA’s General Manager Coasts and Freshwater Dr Clive Howard-Williams (left) and Centre Leader for the National Centre for Coasts & Oceans Dr Ian Wright (right).

Nearly 100 participants attended our two-day workshop on ‘Effects of land-based activities on the coastal environment’ in May.

Making the most of a little iron

Making the most of a little iron

Deploying the CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth) instrument, which captures water samples at depth.

A NIWA-led study has shed light on the role of iron in controlling plankton productivity, and points to dust as a source of this important element in the New Zealand EEZ.
Iron is essential to life in the oceans, where it’s used by microscopic plants (phytoplankton) living in the surface layer to convert sunlight to energy.

All you ever wanted to know about estuaries...

All you ever wanted to know about estuaries ...

Most New Zealanders live near an estuary, but how many of us know what estuaries do for us, and the issues that affect them?
NIWA has gathered together information on New Zealand estuaries in a single resource, designed to inform our communities about how estuaries work, problems that affect estuaries, and some solutions to those problems.

Mammoth UNCLOS submission filed

Mammoth UNCLOS submission filed

Part of the UNCLOS team with the mammoth submission, spanning 24 report folders, 2683 pages, 72 chart sheets, 90 seismic sections, and 4 CD/DVDs of digital data. L to R: Russell Turner (LINZ), Vaughan Stagpoole (GNS Science), Kelly Lafoga (LINZ), Elana Geddis (MFAT), Ian Wright (NIWA), Kevin Mackay (NIWA).

The final report and submission of the New Zealand Continental Shelf Project was filed with the United Nations in April.

How toxic are heavy metals to estuary life?

How toxic are heavy metals to estuary life?

NIWA scientists Mr David Bremner and Dr Jacquie Reed taking core samples of sediments in the Rangitopuni Estuary, in the upper Waitemata Harbour.

Sediments in some of our urban estuaries have become contaminated with stormwater-derived heavy metals (such as zinc, copper, and lead) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
The Auckland Regional Council has recently developed sediment quality guidelines for the Auckland region based on the concentrations of contaminants that are toxic to estuarine organisms.

A better picture for oil exploration

A better picture for oil exploration

Oblique view of the Matakaoa Avalanche, north of East Cape, produced with multi-beam swath bathymetry.

Geological processes operating on the seafloor are like a window into the past. With modern marine geoscience technologies, this window can be used to guide exploration for oil reservoirs buried far below.
New Zealand’s oil industry relies on seismic reflection data to find geological structures, such as folds and faults, that can form traps for oil and gas deep beneath the seafloor.

Mud and mangroves in the Firth of Thames

Mud and mangroves in the Firth of Thames

Mangroves have colonised some 600 hectares along the 9 km of coast between the Waitakaruru and Piako River mouths in the southern Firth of Thames.

Mangroves have been spreading across the intertidal flats in the southern Firth of Thames at a rate averaging about 20 m per year during the last 50 years, causing large-scale environmental changes.

The Argonauts are back

The Argonauts are back

RV Kaharoa in San Diego for fuel and provisions during the 23 186 nautical mile expedition to deploy ocean-profiling Argo floats. Kaharoa will spend the next few months conducting fisheries surveys and other research in New Zealand’s coastal waters, before its next Argo voyage – this time to Mauritius.

Since mid October, NIWA’s sturdy 28-metre research vessel Kaharoa has deployed 133 high-tech floats at prescribed locations in the South and Eastern Tropical Pacific.

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All staff working on this subject

Principal Scientist - Coastal and Estuarine Physical Processes
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Principal Scientist - Ecosystem Modelling
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Coastal and Estuarine Physical Processes Scientist
Hydrodynamics Scientist
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Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
Senior Regional Manager - Wellington
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Marine Invertebrate Systematist
Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
Fisheries Acoustics Scientist
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Physical Oceanographer
Principal Scientist - Coastal and Estuarine Physical Processes
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Marine Biologist (Biosecurity)
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Marine Ecology Technician
Hydrodynamics Scientist
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Fisheries Scientist
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Marine Ecology Technician
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Principal Technician - Marine Geology
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Principal Technician - Fisheries
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