Peru-Chile tsunami, 15 August 1868

This tsunami and earthquake killed thousands of people along the South American Coast.



Run-up for Peru-Chile tsunami.

Run-up for Peru-Chile tsunami.

The tsunami that was caused by a M 9 earthquake in Chile hit the shores of New Zealand in the early hours of 15 August, taking 15 hours to arrive here. The tsunami and earthquake killed thousands of people along the South American Coast.

In New Zealand the tsunami caused substantial damage on the Chatham Islands and Banks Peninsula. At Tupuanga (Tupuangi) on the north-west coast of Chatham Island, the dwellings of an entire Maori village were washed away, the 60-70 residents escaping after the first of three large waves reached the floor of their dwellings. One death occurred nearby at Waitangi West when a person tried to rescue a boat between waves.

The areas most affected in the North and South Islands were around Great Barrier Island, eastern Bay of Plenty, Napier, Canterbury (especially Banks Peninsula), and Oamaru. The greatest reported heights were at Little Akaloa (4.5-5.0m), and Le Bons Bay (5.8-7.6m), although the latter may have been overestimated by observers.

The tsunami damaged boats and moved moorings and buoys at many places. Around Banks Peninsula, many wharves, bridges, and fences were damaged or destroyed, and several houses were inundated. The effects may have been significantly greater had some of the largest waves occurred at higher tide levels, particularly about Banks Peninsula. The waves were greatest within the first 12-20 hours of arrival, and sea level did not return to normal for at least 2-3 days.