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New Zealand's islands moved two metres closer together by tremor

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By Catherine Hardy  with REUTERS
New Zealand's islands moved two metres closer together by tremor

Hundreds of survivors stranded by a huge earthquake which struck New Zealand have been brought to Christchurch by naval vessel.

Around 450 tourists and locals from the small seaside town of Kaikoura were taken by HMNZS Canterbury to Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city.

Most tourists continued their journeys.

However, around 130 are being housed temporarily in Canterbury University’s student halls, according to local media.


The fishing community and popular whale-watching base, ringed by steep mountains, had been completely cut off by large landslides that covered road and rail links.

Air Force helicopters joined a fleet of private helicopters that have ferried hundreds more people from the town to Christchurch over the last few days.

Workers cleared an emergency inland road into Kaikoura, allowing water and other supplies to be trucked in for the first time.


Residents in the town of Waiau continue to clean up.

Many are having to deal with the stress of aftershocks.

Storms lashed the region on Thursday.

Seismologists are still recording hundreds of aftershocks. An estimated 2,000 have rattled the region since the initial tremor shook shortly after midnight on Sunday.

The earthquake

Two people were killed and dozens injured by the magnitude 7.8 quake.

Two almost-simultaneous tremors ruptured faultlines across the top of New Zealand’s South Island.

The timing of the quake – shortly after midnight on Sunday – combined with the epicentre being in a sparsely-populated region prevented a higher death toll, the authorities have said.

A tsunami alert that followed sent many rushing for higher ground before the threat was lowered.

The cost

The quake’s cost could add up to almost eight billion euros.

The concern is that this could push the government’s budget back into deficit after two years of surpluses.

Prime Minister John Key said earlier in the week the damage bill would be around 1.3 billion euros. However, he cautioned this was an early estimate.

Finance Minister Bill English told parliament the damage was “relatively localised”.

In 2011, an earthquake in Christchurch, South Island’s largest city, killed almost 200 people.

Rebuilding cost more than 26 billion euros.

New Zealanders now closer than ever

The earthquake shifted the land at Cape Campbell (the northeast tip of the South Island) to the north-northeast by more than two metres.

It also moved vertically by almost one metre.

This means Cape Campbell is now more than two metres closer to the North Island than it was before the earthquake.

Similarly, Kaikoura has moved to the northeast by nearly one metre and has been lifted upwards by 70 cms.

All of this movement happened during the earthquake in a matter of seconds.

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What they are saying

“They made us feel like, its ok, ‘we’re going to get you out now, we’re going to help you’ and now they’re doing first class service here. They put us in a bed,” – unidentified tourist

“Day four today and I’ve got two kids at home and they are struggling to go to sleep and stuff like that at night, it is pretty stressful,” – Waiau resident David Green

“This week’s disaster struck in more lightly-populated areas, but damage to infrastructure has been severe,” – economists for Citibank.