Its easy to forget that New Zealand forms part of the pacific ring of fire. It lies on the active boundary between the Australian and Pacific plates and is one of the most seismically active places in the world. North of Wellington there are a number of active and potentially active volcanoes in the Taupo volcanic zone.
The last major earthquake (magnitude 7.8) in an urban area occurred in 1931 in Napier, Hawkes Bay when 256 people died . Since then there have been earthquakes of just over magnitude 7 in 2003 and 2004 when no one was killed - both these occurred in relatively rural areas.
With all this history and potential for natural disasters perhaps I need to take all this advice to be prepared a bit more seriously. The people who own our house obviously are prepared as there is loads of bottled water stored in the garage and the gas and water off switches are very clearly marked.
This is all a bit different from the UK where the most dramatic thing we had to worry about was a bit of strong wind blowing a few tiles of the roof and a bit of flooding. Dd1 surprised me the other day when she told me about the earthquake drill she had at school when they all had to hide under the table. I think she rather enjoyed the whole thing.
In all the local communities that you drive through there are sign posts to the local "Civil Defence Centre". The following is an extract from Wellingtons Emergency Management Guide.
"In a major disaster or emergency Civil Defence Centres are activated by volunteers. The centres are situated in primary schools or other community locations like community centres.
In an emergency listen to your local radio station to hear which Civil Defence Centres are working.
The centres collect information about the impact of an emergency and inform the Wellington Emergency Management Office. There is very little equipment at Civil Defence Centres, so residents should plan to be self-sufficient.
It's a good idea to keep a note of your nearest Civil Defence Centre location in your home survival kit."
It all sounds very serious and very different to anything in the UK. I particularly like the bit about residents being "self sufficient". I think I had better get prepared.
So next week when our furniture arrives I will be getting a box and putting a torch and radio in there along with a first aid kit and camping stove. I also need to start storing some tinned food and toiletries. So providing a major volcanic eruption doesn't happen in the next few weeks we should be OK.