What lies beneath Dunedin?

Climate change is one of the four priorities for Otago Regional Council (ORC). We’re carrying out research to better understand what climate change might look like in South Dunedin and what we can all do to prepare for it.

South Dunedin and Harbourside are considered low-lying areas and ‘at risk’ of sea-level rise due to climate change. We’re therefore continuing our groundwater monitoring programme in low-lying parts of Dunedin City and South Dunedin, to study the run-off, tidal, and groundwater interactions.


Discover the history of reclaimed Dunedin and how we monitor the natural hazards of the area through this Google Earth tour



ORC supports the NZ Sea Rise project, which is a national Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment funded scientific research programme that aims to improve predictions of local sea-level change impacts around New Zealand, including changes at coastal aquifers.

South Dunedin is one of several case study areas within the project, and deep drilling to determine exactly what lies beneath Dunedin. To do this, information about the different layers of rock underneath South Dunedin and Harbourside will be recovered to collect as much information about the different layers of rock as possible and install groundwater monitors to determine deep aquifer characteristics.

Determining the age and type of sediment that lies beneath the surface in this area will also provide information about past sea levels and environmental changes which is vital for understanding how the environment may change in the future.

The programme is being undertaken in collaboration with GNS Science via the NZ Sea Rise project, with in-kind support from the Dunedin City Council (DCC) and the University of Otago. Oceana Gold are also supporting this project.

This project allows for an updated geological and groundwater model to be generated, which will give us information about the impacts of projected sea-level rise on groundwater levels and flooding hazards.

The information will be shared with the Dunedin City Council to help inform decisions on infrastructure management in South Dunedin and Harbourside, and possible measures that could be taken to mitigate future sea-level and climate change impacts.

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