Coasts

Latest news

Small orange flecks spotted floating around in a respiration chamber at a NIWA laboratory have led to a discovery about the spawning habits of a deep-sea stony coral in New Zealand waters.
A six-metre long orange underwater robot is flying through the Kaikōura Canyon for the next month collecting information on how the canyon has changed since the 2016 earthquake.
People along the Kapiti and Wanganui coast may spot NIWA’s research vessel Kaharoa operating close to shore in the next few weeks as scientists carry out a survey of snapper, tarakihi, red gurnard and John Dory.
NIWA scientists have completed the first national assessment of people and buildings at risk in New Zealand’s tsunami evacuation zones.

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.

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.

NIWA helps reduce exploration risk

NIWA helps reduce exploration risk

Mean current speed (metres per second) in the Great South Basin, from the NIWA regional ocean model.

The Ministry of Economic Development is about to put more petroleum exploration permit blocks in the Great South Basin up for offer. In preparation for the offer, the ministry contracted NIWA to produce detailed information on the marine weather and sea conditions of the region.
Gas has already been discovered in the Great South Basin, and two blocks are currently held by the Bounty Oil and Magellan companies.

To San Diego, via Chile

To San Diego, via Chile

RV Kaharoa leaves this month on Argo 5 to San Diego via Chile and return. In 2006, Kaharoa will travel west to Mauritius (‘Argo 6’). Kaharoa was also used on Argo 1, 2, & 4. Argo 3, to the Southern Ocean, was conducted by RV Tangaroa. NIWA has deployed more floats than any other organisation.

NIWA’s 28-metre research vessel Kaharoa sets sail shortly to deploy more ocean-profiling Argo floats across the Pacific.

Habitat map for taiapure

Habitat map for taiapure

NIWA produced this interactive CD-ROM to accompany the habitat map. The taiapure committee can click on points of interest on the map and view side scans of the seabed, and video footage of habitat and species, at that location.

The Wakapuaka Taiapure covers over 15 km of coastline and extends up to 4 km offshore from Cable Bay to Whangamoa Head in northern Tasman Bay.
The Department of Conservation, in association with the Taiapure Committee, contracted NIWA to survey the nearshore area to map reefs and other seafloor features.

Tide advice for rescue centre

Tide advice for rescue centre

When packages of a toxic fumigant were found off the Northland coast in April, the Rescue Coordination Centre called NIWA for advice on tides.
Tides are a significant part of the currents around New Zealand. For example, around North Cape, tidal currents can flow at up to 50 centimetres per second (or 1 knot).
NIWA’s tide model can calculate surface height and depth-averaged currents for any location around New Zealand, making it a handy tool in helping locate things drifting at sea.

Picture perfect for port

Picture perfect for port

Colour terrain model of the EM3000 multibeam data overlain on an aerial photograph for Port Taranaki. This shows the level of detail now available for port engineering projects.

NIWA’s recent survey for Westgate Transport, which runs Port Taranaki, demonstrates the remarkable detail of our EM3000 multibeam mapping.
The survey, commissioned by Duffill Watts & King, aimed to establish a clear picture of the nature of the seabed before deepening of the harbour.

Future waves

For the past year, NIWA has been conducting in-house trials of a system which produces rolling 5-day forecasts of wave conditions.
Waves are generated by wind. The NIWA model currently uses 5-day forecasts of winds over the world’s oceans from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The model converts those wind forecasts into the likely wave patterns, taking into account the physics of how waves build up, travel, and dissipate.

New tool for marine conservation and management

New tool for marine conservation and management
New Zealand’s first-ever Marine Environment Classification (MEC) is complete.

The MEC divides New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) into areas with similar environmental and biological character. We used eight environmental variables to define the classification. They all relate to the physical characteristics of the ocean, including depth, tidal currents, and aspects of sea surface temperature. Biological features of an area (e.g., what creatures live there) tend to be closely aligned with the environment.

A research vessel for all seasons

New Zealand’s only ice-strengthened research vessel is nothing if not versatile.

Tangaroa in Antarctica’s Western Ross Sea. NIWA Vessel Management’s purpose-built hydrographic survey launch, Pelorus, in the foreground, can be carried and launched from Tangaroa.

The 70-metre long Tangaroa, which is owned and operated by NIWA Vessel Management Ltd, spent much of October undertaking resource mapping along the Kermadec Arc as a joint scientific study with the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences.

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All staff working on this subject

Principal Scientist - Coastal and Estuarine Physical Processes
Principal Scientist - Ecosystem Modelling
Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
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Coastal and Estuarine Physical Processes Scientist
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Coastal Adaptation Scientist
Regional Manager - Nelson
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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