Earthquakes, storms & landslides – what a week!
What an eventful week for New Zealand! A 7.8 earthquake hit Kaikoura, rumbling around the country and hit Wellington badly too. Tsusame warnings meant many needed to find high ground in the middle of the night. Then we were hit by heavy rain that would have hampered peoples efforts to fix the earthquake issues.
I was lucky to have left Kaikoura a week before. If there were any tremors in the middle of the night in Twisel, I didn’t feel them. I awoke to messages from friends checking I was ok before I realised what had happened! The woman at the campsite reception was frazzled and sleep deprived as her boyfriend was in the earthquake area and she was worried.
A friend in Kaikoura happened to have climbed a mountain that day and was camping at the very top when he woke to the earthquake. It must have been terrifying! He came home to belongings strewn everywhere and a long and tedious cleanup. No way to leave the town as the main road has been badly damaged, no power and no fuel. The cruel part is he’d moved from Christchurch a few years before.
Before the earthquake, I’d considered writing a blog about what Christchurch is like now, 5 years after their big earthquake. Visiting, I saw a lot of buildings still cracked and broken from the previous earthquakes with weeds taking over. Walking around the city centre, it looks like there is a lot of work still to be done. Talking to a local friend about the huge number of roadworks throughout the city, she explained that the roads had buckled and a lot of pipes underground were damaged. Comparing the city to my visit 7 years before it’s changed from a busy inner city to businesses and shopping moving outwards. There are now some very trendy areas like the Tannery and the Colombo with such beautifully designed clothes and homeware. There are a lot of new buildings and plenty of stunning street art. Christchurch has changed and will keep changing in the coming years. What will it be like in 2 years time?
I was near Moeraki a couple of days after the earthquake and could see the beach from my caravan window. It crossed my mind that being by the water after Tsunami warnings was probably not the smartest idea, especially with tremors still happening. Plus the river behind me was rising and a local had never seen it that full and raging.
Getting cabin fever and during a break in the storm, I decided to walk to the Moeraki boulders. It involved fording four rivers, and looking back, probably wasn’t my smartest idea. Seeing some earth crumble in the bank, I started filming and captured the land shift and a whole chunk come away from the side. I was ready to sprint out the way if it came any closer. So much rain had put pressure on the land and you could see that a rope marking someones section was now tangled in the moved earth. Their property had suddenly become smaller.
I arrived at the Moeraki Boulders just as the rain started again. The one advantage was that it scared all the tourists away and I had the boulders to myself!
Walking back to my caravan, I realised the tide was higher and the last river was too fast paced to cross. A local suggested climbing a fence into a farm paddock, but it had barb-wire AND an electric fence and I imagined things ending very badly for me. Eventually I waded into the ocean and got throughly wet, but as the waves counter-acted the force of the river water.
Safely back in my caravan, warm and dry, I started thinking that mother nature has been severe to New Zealand this week. Our country has shifted – Kaikoura has moved a metre and lifted 70cm. It’s changing our land without a thought for the humans living on it. A reminder that we aren’t all powerful and don’t have as much control as we might wish.