Site Analysis

Understanding all the features of a site, using and protecting the best, and minimising the impact of the worst.

New Zealand climate and environmental zones

Climate should influence building form and location on site, material choices, window/door size and placement, and loading and bracing requirements.

On this page:

  • climate zones for energy efficiency
  • wind, earthquake, snow and exposure zones
  • specific design standards.

Climate zones for energy efficiency

New Zealand is divided into three zones, based on average temperature data, for NZ Building Code Acceptable Solution H1/AS1 Energy efficiency.

Zone boundaries are aligned with those of territorial authorities.

  • Zone 1: Northland, Auckland, Franklin District and the Coromandel Peninsula
  • Zone 2: The rest of the North Island except the Central Plateau
  • Zone 3: The Central Plateau of the North Island and all of the South Island

Climate zones are used to determine the required thermal performance (if using specific design) or minimum R-value requirements (if using the schedule or calculation method of NZS 4218:2009 Thermal insulation – Housing and small buildings) for construction work.

The online tool BRANZ Maps identifies a range of features for a specific location, including climate zone, exposure zone and earthquake zone.

The three existing climate zones will be replaced with six climate zones on 3 November 2022 when H1/AS1 and H1/VM1 5th edition, amendment 1, replace the 4th edition. You can find maps showing the six new climate zones in Appendix C of the 5th edition documents.

Wind, earthquake, snow and exposure zones

Under NZS 3604:2011 Timber framed buildings, New Zealand is also divided into zones based on other environmental features including wind, earthquake, snow load and exposure.

Design standards

Design factor Map NZ standard Design for…
Bracing Wind zone NZS 3604:
Section 5
Bracing requirements
  Earthquake zone NZS 3604:
Section 5
Bracing requirements
Durability Exposure zone NZS 3604:
Table 4.1
Timber treatment levels
Claddings selection
Fastenings selection
Flashings selection

The zones given in NZS 3604 are general classifications only. Specific design can result in more economically designed structures.

  • AS/NZS 1170 Structural designs includes methods to determine wind, earthquake and snow effects for specific building sites using engineering first principles. A registered engineer is required to undertake design according to this standard.
  • NZS 3101 Concrete structures includes exposure classification maps to determine the steel reinforcing requirements of concrete construction. This standard identifies corrosion zones and also gives typical wind speeds and directions for New Zealand’s major cities. This standard is in the process of being amended.


Updated: 08 September 2022