Climate Change Effects Summary - NZ

This map provides an indication of the potential regional impacts of climate change in New Zealand. It is not an attempt to provide a comprehensive summary of all the impacts.

 Potential impacts of climate change                       

(Source: Ministry for the Environment 2013)

The map above indicates the following effects:

Snowlines and glaciers

  • increased length and area of glaciers
  • rise in snowline
  • possible increase in snowfall
  • possible increase in avalanches


  • sea-level rise
  • increased storm surge
  • coastal inundation
  • increased coastal erosion

Drier northern and eastern parts of North and South Islands

  • less rainfall
  • decreased run-off to rivers
  • increased evaporation
  • increased drought for already drought-prone areas
  • increased irrigation demand

Wetter west and south of North and South Islands

  • increased precipitation
  • increased intensity in weather events
  • increased flooding for already flood-prone areas
  • increased slips
  • increased soil erosion


  • increased intensity (leading to increased wind, waves, storm surge and rainfall)


  • increased westerly winds in the south, more north easterlies in the north

Natural areas

  • species distribution changes
  • changes to/loss of habitat
  • increased pressure from pests, animals and plants.

Climate change effects by local authority function

Local authority area of   responsibility

Asset or activity affected

Climate change influence

Possible effects

Water supply and irrigation


Reduced rainfall, extreme rainfall events and increased temperature

  • Reduced security of supply (depending on water source)
  • Contamination of water supply



Increased rainfall

  • More intense rainfall (extreme events) will cause more inflow and infiltration into the wastewater network
  • Wet weather overflow events will increase in frequency and volume
  • Longer dry spells will increase the likelihood of blockages and related dry weather overflows



Increased rainfall
Sea-level rise

  • Increased frequency and/or volume of system flooding
  • Increased peak flows in streams and related erosion
  • Groundwater level changes
  • Saltwater intrusion in coastal zones
  • Changing flood plains and greater likelihood of damage to properties and infrastructure


Road network and associated infrastructure (power, telecommunications, drainage)

Extreme rainfall events, extreme winds, high temperatures

  • Disruption due to flooding, landslides, fallen trees and lines
  • Direct effects of wind exposure on heavy vehicles

Urban land-use planning/policy development

Management of development in the private sector
Expansion of urban areas
Infrastructure and communications planning


  • Inappropriate location of urban expansion areas
  • Inadequate or inappropriate infrastructure, costly retrofitting of systems

Land management

Rural land management

Changes in rainfall, wind, and temperature

  • Enhanced erosion
  • Changes in type/ distribution of pest species
  • Increased fire risk
  • Reduction in water availability for irrigation
  • Changes in appropriate land use

Water management

Management of watercourses/lakes/ wetlands

Changes in rainfall and temperature

  • More variation in water volumes possible
  • Reduced water quality
  • Sedimentation and weed growth
  • Changes in type/ distribution of pest species

Coastal management

Management of coastal development

Temperature changes leading to sea-level changes
Extreme storm events

  • Coastal erosion and flooding
  • Disruption in roading, communications
  • Loss of private property and community assets
  • Effects on water quality

Civil defence and emergency management

Emergency planning and response, and recovery operations

Extreme events

  • Greater risks to public safety, and resources needed to manage flood, rural fire, landslip and storm events


Pest management

Temperature and rainfall changes

  • Changes in range of pest species

Open space and community facilities management

Planning and management of parks, playing fields and urban open spaces

Temperature and rainfall changes

  • Changes/reduction in water availability
  • Changes in biodiversity
  • Changes in type/ distribution of pest species
  • Groundwater changes
  • Saltwater intrusion in coastal zones
  • Need for more shelter in urban spaces


Management of public transport
Provision of footpaths, cycleways, etc

Changes in temperatures, wind and rainfall

  • Changed maintenance needs for public transport (road, rail) infrastructure
  • Disruption due to extreme events

Waste management

Transfer stations and landfills

Changes in rainfall and temperature

  • Increased surface flooding risk
  • Biosecurity changes
  • Changes in ground water level and leaching


Transmission lines

Extreme wind, high temperatures

  • Outages from damaged lines