New Zealand is a country coming apart at the seams. Or, more accurately, subducting at the seams of two continental plates, making it periodically shake, crumble, explode and prone to tsunamis.

As part of Te Papa's Earth Rocks event on Labour Weekend the museum has organised a panel of experts to answer the public's questions about how best to survive the earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes or landslides that come with our geology.

Panel leader Dr Hamish Campbell of GNS Science said New Zealand was one of the most geologically active places on earth. Our farms, homes and forests are perched on an unusually thin skin of the earth's crust at the boundary of two tectonic plates.

The panel expects questions such as the best place to find cover in an earthquake, where the most dangerous place to live is, which volcano is likely to erupt next, who provides insurance cover in a landslide and how to escape a tsunami.

The natural threats to New Zealand were widespread and, statistically at least, several of the most dangerous were due to go, Campbell said.

"A full-scale Taupo eruption would literally take out all of the North Island," he said.

Lake Taupo erupted an average of once every 950 years but has not erupted since 181AD. Its largest known eruption left half a metre of volcanic debris on the Chatham Islands 1000km away. The Alpine fault, which runs the length of the Southern Alps, is due a major move that would shake every city in the South Island, Campbell said, flattening many houses.

Evidence of the last time the Alpine fault moved include a large area of southern beech forest in which every standing tree was snapped off at the trunk.

Landslides were less apocalyptic but more frequent and were the most common cause of destruction to property. In Auckland, it was only a matter of time before a new volcano appeared and began oozing molten lava.

"There is ample evidence to show there is plenty of activity going on under Auckland. Auckland is built on a hot spot that is deeply rooted; the magma is coming from very, very deep down."

But that would be fairly benign compared to what scientists believed was in store for Wanganui. The ground beneath the city was regularly experiencing tiny tremors, indicating something big was building up.

"We think there will be another volcano like Ruapehu smack on Wanganui," Campbell said.

To the west Mt Taranaki - with an eruption average of every 100 to 200 years - was also overdue.

"It is like Mt St Helens (which erupted in 1980 in the US, killing 57 people), so you get very big blowouts and big bits collapsing."

Campbell said a report commissioned after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami concluded the risk to New Zealand from a tsunami was probably as great as from earthquakes.

"And there is no part of New Zealand that is immune to earthquakes."

You have until October 16 to put questions to the panel via Its answers will be filmed and broadcast via the site on October 21.