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.

Solar Semidiurnal Tide (S2)
Twice-daily M2 tidal currents animation around the North Island of New Zealand based on a TIDE2D model.
Tidal and surface currents - besides tidal height, the NIWA tide model of New Zealand's EEZ also produces tidal currents. For the first time, a detailed overall picture has emerged of the strength (speed) and direction of tidal flows on the continental shelf and around various islands, headlands and straits.
Animation of the lunar semidiurnal tide (M2) in New Zealand.
Diurnal Tide (K1)

Hazard planning, awareness and building resilient communities

Sea level on the move?
Effect of global warming
Educational CD-ROM “New Zealand’s Sandy Coasts”
Coastal & Storm Hazards Workshop

Sea level on the move?

Long-term sea level varies at timescales of years, decades and centuries. Before the long-term trend in sea-level rise can be obtained from any sea-level record, we must understand the fluctuations that occur over years and decades. The longest sea-level record in New Zealand is from the Port of Auckland (click to see accompanying figure).

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.

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

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


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.



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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