NZ Geomechanics News

News – 21st NZGS National Symposium – Dunedin 2020

The 21st Symposium of the New Zealand Geotechnical Society will take place between 14 and 18 October 2020 in Dunedin. In this Symposium we will strive to explore the challenges and opportunities of our future by learning from the failures and achievements of our past.

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Symposium theme

The theme of the Symposium is inspired by the profound changes currently experienced internationally and in New Zealand:

  • Natural disasters associated with climate change effects, are becoming increasingly frequent and severe.
  • The learnings from the recent Canterbury and Kaikōura seismic events are shifting our thinking in New Zealand with respect to the way we perceive and address the seismic risk.
  • Increasing urbanism and growth of population around the cities create more needs for capacity and resiliency of lifelines.
  • The fragile international economy is limiting available resources, and potential changes in insurance practices and cover policies require a different approach in achieving resilience for our communities.

These are pressing future challenges for the geotechnical profession, but also great opportunities. The profession is playing a key role in achieving sustainability of our built environment and communities.

At the same time, new technologies, such as intelligent real time remote monitoring systems, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and computer power create new capabilities. New wireless communication technologies enable dissemination of knowledge and collaboration, without geographical or other barriers. New regulation and guidelines framework provide an invaluable tool for benchmarking geotechnical engineering practice.
Our past failures and achievements can provide invaluable learnings and assist us prepare for the future challenges and make the most of the future opportunities.

Symposium purpose and format

The Symposium aims to attract the most recent developments in geotechnical engineering, and associated disciplines in New Zealand and internationally. We look for stimulating technical discussions and out-of-the-box ideas in the fields of engineering geology, geotechnical engineering, seismology, geophysics, new technologies.

The Symposium will comprise a pre-symposium half-day workshop, one-day field study, and two days of technical talks and discussions. We will use a range of formats: keynote speakers, plenary special technical sessions and discussions, speaker presentations, and poster exhibitions.

Collaboration and communication with structural and infrastructural engineering will be key component of our technical sessions.


The selected location for the 21st NZGS Symposium is Dunedin, New Zealand’s best kept secret. Dunedin is a city with unique character architecture and heritage buildings steeped in history, with abundance of wild life and spectacular country on its door step.
During the Symposium we will seek opportunities for exploring and enjoying the beauties that the city and surroundings can offer.

Pre – Symposium workshop and field study

We are preparing a special gateway to Dunedin for the Symposium Delegates. We are planning a special workshop in Queenstown, prior to the Symposium, on Wednesday 14 October 2020. The workshop will be focused on landslide recognition, interpretation, risk and mitigation and state-of-the-art monitoring systems. It will be presented by local and international experts.

The workshop will be followed by a field study / trip on the next day, Thursday 15 October 2020.

The trip will start from Queenstown through Cromwell Gorge and beautiful Maniototo, where local experts will show us how past excellence in geotechnical practice can educate and inform our future development.

The field study will be completed with a train trip from Pukerangi to Dunedin, through the spectacular Taieri Gorge. Local GNS experts will guide us through the trip and talk about landslides and other interesting geological and geotechnical features of the gorge.

The trip will finish at the iconic Railway Station in Dunedin, right on time for the Symposium Welcome Reception held at the Settlers Museum, opposite the Station.


The Symposium website is expected to be launched in March 2019. Through the website we will provide all the communications about technical topics, key dates, costs, venue and accommodation.

We will be also issuing regular newsletters to keep you up to date with all developments.

We strive to make the next NZGS Symposium to be “Your Symposium”. Please get in touch with us, we are keen to listen to your suggestions and ideas and we encourage you to contribute in any way you feel you can.

Please contact the Organising Committee through Eleni Gkeli, Symposium Convener and Committee Chair, by email at and by phone on 021 192 0296.



NZ Geomechanics News
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 96 - December 2018
New Zealand

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