Go back to "Publications"

Coastal hazards and climate change: Guidance for local government

This guidance supports councils to manage and adapt to the increased coastal hazard risks posed by climate change and sea-level rise.

This guidance supports councils to manage and adapt to the increased coastal hazard risks posed by climate change and sea-level rise.


  • provides information on the effects of climate change on coastal hazards, incorporating the latest science and relevant legislation, information from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s 2015 report on sea-level rise, and feedback from stakeholders
  • recommends a new ‘pathways’ approach to adaptive planning that is dynamic and flexible. It is designed to be used when there is uncertainty about future physical conditions affecting the coastal environment
  • contains new sections on collaborative approaches to engaging with communities (which is central to the adaptive planning approach) and local government roles and responsibilities
  • outlines a 10-step decision-making process that councils and communities can follow when planning for the effects of climate change on coastal hazards.

This 2017 guidance is an update of the 2008 edition. The previous edition was more of an engineering manual, and the new edition contains more information for planners and for use in the planning process.


Appendices to the guidance are available as a separate document.

Read the appendices [PDF, 4 MB].

Peer review

The Ministry for the Environment commissioned two independent expert peer reviews of a near-final draft, to ensure that the published guidance is fit-for-purpose. These were conducted by Shonagh Kenderdine and Warren Walker.

Shonagh Kenderdine is a former Environment Court Judge with significant experience in coastal hazard issues. She was Chair of the Board of Inquiry for the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement in 2008-2009, and more recently Chair of the peer review panel of the Christchurch Coastal Hazards Assessment Report for the Christchurch City Council, in 2016.

Review by Shonagh Kenderdine [PDF, 972 KB].

Warren Walker is an Emeritus Professor of Policy Analysis in the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management at Delft University of Technology. His recent research has focused on methods for dealing with deep uncertainty in making public policies, especially with respect to climate change.

Review by Emeritus Professor Warren Walker [PDF, 527 KB].

Supporting material

Preparing for coastal change: A summary of coastal hazards and climate change guidance for local government

Preparing for coastal change fact sheet series

New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 (PDF 497 KB) [Department of Conservation website]

NZCPS 2010 guidance notes: coastal hazards (PDF 2.03 MB) [Department of Conservation website]

See more on...