12 Mar 2011

Civil Defence cancels tsunami alert for NZ coastline

10:36 pm on 12 March 2011

Civil Defence says no further tsunami threat exists for New Zealand coastlines as a result of the Japan earthquake and its alert for New Zealand has been cancelled.

However, the Civil Defence advisory issued at 5.30pm on Saturday said minor fluctuations in sea level may continue for up to 48 hours and caution is advised on beaches and in marine environments.

A controller for the National Crisis Management Centre Tim Clarke said the largest wave to strike the country on Saturday was 90cm recorded in the Chatham Islands.

He says the effects of the tsunami were responsible for overturning a small boat in Tutukaka Harbour in Northland.

Civil Defence said the first waves at Raoul Island in the Kermadecs were recorded at 6.35am on Saturday and the first at North Cape were at 7.10am.

The initial waves were 15cm high but subsequently increased in size to up to 70cm.

Some ignore warning

The tsunami warning failed to deter boating enthusiasts racing off the coast of Coromandel on Saturday afternoon.

High speed power boats spent hours racing 160 kilometres back and forwards in front of Whitianga.

New Zealand Offshore Power Boat Association president Cary Gleason says conditions were being watched closely before the race.

He says the surge pulled debris into the water, and helicopters helped direct its removal from the course of the race.

He adds spectators were kept back from the water's edge while watching the race.

And dozens of university students ignored tsunami warnings on a beach in Raglan on Sunday, with some even swimming in the water.

Surf Lifesaving says a busload of about 50 students turned up at Ngaranui beach on Sunday morning from Hamilton.

It says most of them went onto the beach, ignoring tsunami warning signs which had been put up.

Raglan club captain, Debbie Phillips-Morgan, says it was incredibly frustrating, but the vast majority of people in Raglan heeded the warnings, and stayed away from the water.