Geomorphological Assessments

Geomorphological assessments cover the geology, landform evolution (which often must include the Holocene and Pleistocene Epochs), present forms and processes, and predict future change for various scenarios including climate change projections. Such assessments provide the basis for all our investigations.    The following areas of coastal investigation in which we work often result from protection and management legislation of which the Resource Management Act (RMA 1991) and the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement (NZCPS 2010) are the most relevant.  Implicit, and in some situations, explicitly stated in giving effect to the requirements of the legal directives is coastal geomporphology.  

Coastal Environment

Policy 1 of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement (NZCPS, 2010) refers to the coastal environment and lists a range of determinants to be considered in its demarkation. Geomorphology plays a central roll in identifying the landward extent of the coastal environment and some counicls are also defining a corresponding Coastal Protection Area in District Plans.    

Natural Character

Section 6(a) of the RMA refers to preservation of natural character and NZCPS (2010) Policy 13 provides instruction on its preservation with geomorphology again playing a central roll.  Local government Plans are now beginning to incorporate Natural Character.

Outstanding natural Landforms and Landscapes

Section 6(b)  of the RMA refers to the identification and protection of outstanding natural features and landscape and NZCPS (2010) Policy 15 describes protection measures including identification with geomorphology playing a key roll. Local government Plans are beginning to incorporate outstanding natural landforms and landscapes.

Coastal Management

Section 5 of the RMA refers to the promotion of sustainable management of natural and physical resources, and understanding the geomorphology is necessary to achieve this objective. Many coastal reserves have Coastal Management Plans which are regularly updated.  In addition, these plans may required Resource consents.  Geomorphological assessments are the starting point for any such planning/management.   In addition, most of the NZ coast is eroding or unstable (fluctuating shoreline) and sand stabilization programmes are required. Again, resource consents may be part of such programmes and once again geomorphological assessments are the starting point for any such programmes.

Tangata whenua

Present revisions planned for the RMA will give Maori more influence in resouce management and protection, and the NZCPS 2010, Policy 2, list measures that must be taken into account when giving effect to the Treaty of Waitangi in relation to the coastal environment.   Maori have a unique association with the land, especially the coast, so natural processes that maintain or change it are of fundamental importance when it comes to participating in development decisions.  Maori have invariably lacked such specialist scientific knowledge and CSL have been  able to unravel the local geomorphology and present it in a clear and effective way.

Coastal Hazard assessments

Coastal hazards occur when coastal processes threaten infrastructure, property and personal safety, and include erosion of beaches, dunes, inlets and cliffs; burial by wind-blown sand or cliff failure; inundation from tsunami, storms and hinterland flooding, and waves and currents (especially rips) threatening beach users. Coastal Systems Ltd (CSL) carry out assessments into the extent and likelihood of each of these types of hazard. However, we have particular expertise in shoreline analysis and coastal erosion prediction, and have worked for both local government and private clients throughout New Zealand and also in the Pacific (for examples click HERE)

Hearing presentations

The final stage of many projects is to present evidence at hearings.  Hearing pannels and judges can struggle with the technicallty of our work so we strive to ensure our reports are clear, comprehensive and well illustrated.


As well as locating, processing and analysing available historical data (maps, aerial photography, satellite images, video, bathymetric charts, survey plans, profiles etc) we also have the capability to collect and process raw data as required by a project.