Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

Large-scale emergency

Large-scale emergency situation overseas

For most New Zealanders travelling overseas is an incident-free experience but it is important to plan for the unexpected. This page provides some general advice about what to do if you’re caught up in an emergency situation while overseas.

This page should be read in conjunction with our destination specific travel advisories here: Travel advisories by destination | SafeTravel and our advice about contingency planning here: Contingency planning for New Zealanders overseas | SafeTravel.

For all New Zealanders either living or travelling overseas, you can register your details with SafeTravel. If you register with us, we're able to relay important information to you, as part of New Zealand's consular response to an overseas emergency.

Types of emergency situations

There are many different kinds of emergency situations, but on this page, an emergency situation refers to emergency incidents which impact a large number of people. For example:

  • Natural disasters
  • Terrorist incidents
  • Armed conflict
  • Violent civil unrest

General tips for what to do during an emergency situation:

There are some general things that you can do to keep yourself safe that apply to most emergencies overseas, such as:

  • Avoid the affected area. Wherever possible you should take immediate steps to keep yourself safe. If you’re not in the area affected by the emergency, stay where you are until you know more. Avoid travel until the risk to safety has passed.
  • Seek assistance from local emergency services if needed. Be aware that local emergency services may be stretched during a large-scale emergency.
  • Contact your whānau and friends back home. Let your loved ones know that you’re safe, as soon as you can.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities. It’s important to seek and follow the advice of the relevant authorities in your location, including advice about evacuation orders or curfews.
  • Keep yourself informed. Monitor reputable local and international media and other sources of information, including social media, to stay informed of the latest developments and advice.
  • Contact us if you need consular assistance. If you’re a New Zealand citizen in need of urgent consular assistance, contact the 24/7 Consular Emergency Line on 0800 30 10 30 or +64 99 20 20 20.

Local authorities are your best source of up-to-date information and advice

In any emergency, it is important to follow the advice of the local authorities in your location. Most destinations overseas have official Government websites that provide good local advice about key hazards and risks and associated emergency procedures in your location.

Many governments also have emergency mobile alert systems in place, which relay key advice and information to those in the vicinity of an emergency situation or incident. These alerts are generally sent by authorised emergency agencies to capable mobile phones from targeted cell towers. There may also be an emergency alert app that you can sign up to receive alerts from. Do your research prior to travelling so that you know what you can expect in your specific destination(s).

New Zealand resources

Alongside the advice of local authorities there is also a number of useful resources provided by New Zealand Government agencies with emergency management responsibilities. We provide some key resources below which, while focused on the response to an emergency in New Zealand, are equally relevant to emergencies overseas.

Home — Get Ready — Emergency preparedness in New Zealand – Natural disaster hazards

Know what to do | New Zealand Police – Terrorist attack

What to do if you're affected by hazardous substances | Fire and Emergency New Zealand – Hazardous Substances

Role of the Office of Radiation Safety | Ministry of Health NZ – Radiation safety/Nuclear incident


Other pages in this section: