Nelson Climate Adaptation Storymap

Preparing our community for coastal inundation and lower Maitai flooding

Globally, our climate is changing. Temperatures are increasing, and sea levels will continue to rise. Extreme weather events, river flooding, and coastal flooding will all become more frequent and severe. We can expect sea-level rise of between 0.4m and 0.7m in the next 50 years, and between 0.8 and 1.8 metres in the next 100 years (this takes into account recent data from the NZSeaRise programme

Council is committed to better preparing our communities for the impacts of climate change.

Community engagement June – August 2022

From 22 June until 14 August 2022 Council engaged with the community, asking what you believe is important for us to achieve through our adaptation response.

Keeping our community’s values in mind will help us to identify the outcomes we all want, such as ensuring access to the beach for walking, collecting mahinga kai and building new homes that are climate resilient.

During this engagement phase we provided information and sought your feedback on a range of possible climate change adaptation options, such as protecting our coast and rivers through dune restoration, planting or other protection measures such as coastal stopbanks and groynes (walls or barriers built out into the sea from a beach), or enabling the gradual retreat of people and property to safer ground.

Members of the community were invited to attend one or more workshops and public events to hear from experts about the latest science and what this means for different locations in Nelson. The workshops were divided into suburb areas so people could choose the location(s) relevant to them.

You can read a summary of the feedback received through the June – August 2022 community engagement on Nelson Climate Adaptation here.

Although the engagement period has ended, you can still share your views at any time by emailing

Next steps

Council is continuing to engage with groups that were less represented during the community workshops to ensure a diverse range of voices are heard. In early 2023, we will report back with a set of objectives that will guide the development of adaptation options and pathways. This is a multi-year project, and we will engage with the community at each phase. The next opportunity for you to provide input will be when Council seeks feedback on specific adaptation options for different locations around the city.


We all want to see Whakatū Nelson flourish, and for everyone who calls Nelson home to love living here. We want to be good tūpuna (ancestors) and leave the world in a better place for our tamariki and mokopuna (children and grandchildren).

Globally, our climate is changing. Temperatures are increasing, and the sea level will continue to rise. Extreme weather events, river flooding, and coastal flooding will all become more frequent and severe.

We don’t know exactly when the effects of climate change will be experienced in Whakatū Nelson, but changes are already being observed and will increase in frequency and severity over time.

We are developing a long-term strategy to prepare Whakatū Nelson for the impacts of climate change. The strategy will need to be dynamic and responsive, taking into account the latest science and data as it comes to light and how impacts are tracking. The strategy will take a few years to develop, but it is important that we take the time to get it properly set up.

What does this look like?

What might the impacts of climate change look like in Nelson?

The full extent of future climate change impacts is unknown, as these depend on how successful we are in reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally. However, in Nelson we know that these are likely scenarios:

  • Flooding from rivers, streams and rainfall will become more frequent and severe
  • The sea level will rise between 0.4 m and 0.7 m by 2070 (in 50 years' time)
  • The sea level will rise between 0.8 m and 1.8m by 2120 (in 100 years' time)
  • More coastal erosion as a result of ongoing sea-level rise
  • More frequent coastal flooding as a result of ongoing sea-level rise
  • Average temperatures will increase, and overall temperatures will become more extreme (both hotter and colder)
  • More temperature fluctuations, leading to more droughts, and greater variability in rainfall
  • Storms will increase in intensity.

Note: this data takes into account vertical land movement changes in accordance with the recent data on location-specific sea level rise (

The changes to our climate will impact all areas of our lives, including our cultural values and practices, lifestyles, economy, the natural environment around us, and where we live.

What is Council doing?

As a Council, we are committed to better preparing our communities for the impacts of climate change. This isn't an easy topic, or a small one, and this essential conversation is occurring in coastal communities all around Aotearoa New Zealand and the world.

Developing a strategy to help communities adapt to climate change risks related to the coast will help reduce vulnerability to those risks.

An effective long-term strategy to prepare Whakatū Nelson for the impacts of climate change requires unified action. That’s why it’s so important that we work with you, our community, in creating our strategy. We want to develop the best possible course of action for Whakatū Nelson: one that responds to, and builds on, our community’s values.

As one step in developing the strategy, Council ran a series of community workshops in July 2022 to find out what is important to achieve through our adaptation response. We were looking at the impact of climate change on sea-level rise, as this will lead to greater coastal flooding in the Nelson region. We were also looking at lower Maitai River flooding as part of this stage, as this is a priority area for river flood mitigation, and will be increasingly influenced by sea-level rise as well as increases in rainfall intensity.

Keeping our community’s values in mind will help us to identify the outcomes we all want, such as ensuring access to the beach for walking, and that new buildings are built on less risky ground.

We presented up-to-date information and expert advice on a range of adaptation options available to us:

  • Accommodate, for example by raising floor levels.
  • Protect, for example by building coastal stopbanks or restoring dunes.
  • Avoid, for example through using land use planning to avoid putting more people in harm’s way. This may not be possible where development already exists.
  • Retreat, by moving people away from the coast overtime.

In this series of workshops we focussed on coastal flooding and lower Maitai River flooding. We will be looking at other rivers and streams, and other climate change risks (such as fire, drought and extreme temperatures) over the next couple of years.

The workshop content focussed on affected locations throughout Whakatū Nelson: The Wood, Central City, Maitai, Monaco, Tāhunanui (including Rocks Road), Atawhai, industrial areas such as Annesbrook and the Port area, and rural areas such as Horoirangi / Wakapuaka Flats and Cable Bay.

How are we doing this?

We’re following a process developed in the Netherlands and adopted by the Ministry for the Environment (MfE), called Dynamic Adaptive Pathways Planning (DAPP). The process involves assessing coastal flooding, coastal erosion hazards and flooding of the lower Maitai River and working with the community to develop and implement a long-term strategy to address these climate risks over time.

This process will help us ensure that everyone has an understanding of our coastal hazards, and it will also give us useful information about what’s important to our community when looking at adaptation options and possible opportunities.

Keeping our community’s values in mind will help us to identify the objectives to guide adaptation planning, such as ensuring access to the beach for walking, and that new houses are built on safe ground.

At this stage of the process, we’re not yet looking in detail at specific options to address climate change risks. To help our community think about its values, we’ll outline the types of options and actions that might be considered. We will look at these in detail as part of the next phase, so that the options and actions we consider reflect our community’s values, and the outcomes that we collectively want for Nelson.

What has already been done?

Council has engaged with the community several times in recent years on either coastal flooding or river flooding.

In 2019, we started talking with our communities about their experiences with coastal flooding, then in 2020, we identified coastal hazard areas and undertook initial consultation. In 2021, we refined our flood mapping for streams and rivers, including the Maitai River, and released these to the community.

The feedback we received from earlier engagement indicated that community members have generally found the coastal hazards and flood maps informative - although there are a range of perspectives regarding the potential impacts of climate change. Many people have shared their concerns about flooding and told Council that they value their housing, access to the beach, and feel that more action is required. Concerns have also been raised about impacts of sea-level rise on communities, our city centre, our infrastructure, and impacts on insurance.

As part of the DAPP process, we are using what the community has previously told us, and the current engagement will build on this to identify community values and desired objectives.

What happens next?

After engagement in July 2022, we'll have a good understanding of the values that are important to our community. This will help us to develop a list of objectives to guide our coastal adaptation planning. This is important, so we can understand what our communities want Council to achieve, and what to prioritise. We'll present the feedback and discuss objectives with Councillors following our conversations with the community. We will also prepare summaries of the feedback that will be available to the public.

The feedback we receive will enable us to develop more detailed options for specific areas in Nelson, for further engagement with the community. We expect to begin this phase in 2023.

Over the next couple of years, we will also assess and engage with the community on broader climate change risks, such as flooding of streams, fires, droughts and extreme weather events. Adaptation responses to these climate change risks will also form part of our long-term strategy.

Questions you may have.