From the air, the extent of the damage to Christchurch and the surrounding area is all too clear to see.
The few high-rise buildings in the city have all either come down or are damaged, and many roads have been cut by fissures or gouged out by landslides. Some places have been isolated and are awaiting assistance that will have to be flown in.
Ambulances are reportedly struggling to cope with demand, and hospitals are at full stretch dealing with the injured.
People have been asked not to use their mobile phones as many people trapped in buildings are using them to direct rescuers towards them, and the network is dangerously close to overload.