Awesome Forces Resources

Prepare for some of New Zealand’s natural hazards – earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis.

There are many books and websites that look at New Zealand’s geological make-up and the natural hazards it causes.

On this page:

Awesome Forces at Te Papa

Awesome Forces at Te Papa

Feel the earth move under your feet in Awesome Forces. Learn how plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and erosion have shaped one of the most dynamic and diverse landscapes in the world: Aotearoa New Zealand.
Awesome Forces exhibition

Delve into the inner workings of our amazing planet. Guided by our educators, your students will explore the Earth’s inner core and discover the forces that shape the landscape of AotearoaAotearoa New Zealand.
Book an education visit

Explore Awesome Forces with your students on a self-guided education visit.
Book a self-guided education visit


Awesome Forces
Hicks, G, and Campbell, H, eds. Wellington: Te Papa Press in association with EQC and GNS Science, 1998

Highly recommended for students and teachers alike, this book gives excellent background on the workings of Earth before homing in on New Zealand and why it has such active faults and volcanoes. Each chapter deals with a specific hazard, including all the ones mentioned in this resource.

Slumbering Giants: The volcanoes and thermal regions of the central North Island
Cox, G. New Zealand: HarperCollins, 1996

This book looks at the volcanoes and thermal regions of the central North Island: Taupō, Rotorua, Tarawera, and others. Includes a bibliography.

The Restless Country: Volcanoes and earthquakes of New Zealand
Cox, G. New Zealand: HarperCollins, 1999

A great introduction to earthquakes and volcanoes (including extinct ones) in New Zealand. Includes a list for further reading.

Fountains of Fire: The story of Auckland’s volcanoes
Cox, G. New Zealand: HarperCollins, 2000

Investigates the story of Auckland’s 48 volcanoes and their eruptions. Great illustrations.

Rocked and Ruptured: Geological faults in New Zealand
Aitkin, J. New Zealand: Reed Books, 1999

Produced in association with the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences (now GNS Science), this book is a more in-depth investigation of the known geological faults around New Zealand and their histories. There is an excellent chapter on how scientists gather information and measure the energy of earthquakes. Includes a good reference section for further reading.

The shaping of New Zealand
O’Flaherty, B. New Zealand: Reed Children’s Books, 2002

This book is part of the ‘New Zealand Wild’ series. It has an easy-to-read short history of the development of our planet and more specifically New Zealand. It includes the highly informative NIWA photo of New Zealand (also in the Awesome Forces exhibition at Te Papa) that shows where the tectonic plates meet.


Also check out your local council’s website for emergency management information.