It’s only a matter of time before a rupture of the Alpine Fault, and the South Island’s tourism sector is teaming up with emergency management partners to be better prepared.
Minister of Civil Defence and Associate Minister of Tourism Hon Peeni Henare opened the inaugural AF8 Tourism Forum in Te Anau, which will bring the tourism sector, emergency managers and scientists together to prepare for widespread disruption arising from a natural disaster.
Peeni says forward planning will play a big role in managing and mitigating the impacts of a large-scale earthquake such as an Alpine Fault rupture.
"The stunning landscapes that attract international and local visitors to the South Island are products of the powerful natural forces that have shaped and continue to shape our country," Peeni says.
"But those natural forces also put our infrastructure, our communities, our people and our visitors at risk.
"New Zealand faces some of the greatest natural hazard risks of any country in the world and, among those, an Alpine Fault earthquake is one of the most significant.
"Our most dramatic tourist destinations are going to be some of the most difficult to support in the aftermath of a large Alpine Fault earthquake. This forum will enable tourist operators, emergency managers and scientists to anticipate those needs and challenges, and put plans in place," Peeni says.
Participating at the forum are tourism operators, Te Waipounamu runanga and rapu, South Island Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups, emergency services, central government agencies, universities and local businesses.
The forum is convened by Project AF8, which has brought together science and emergency managers to identify the consequences of a magnitude 8 Alpine Fault earthquake and to identify coordinated initial response actions and what needs to be done to be better prepared.
The Forum is part of an ongoing series of activities to continue conversation and knowledge sharing about a large Alpine Fault to ensure that communities and agencies are collectively better prepared and planning for a significant Alpine Fault rupture.