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New Zealand earthquakes

Kaikoura earthquake

On 14th of November 2016 the New Zealand South Island was shaken by a massive 7.8 strong earthquake, creating damage mostly in the area around Kaikoura, but with effects all the way to Wellington where buildings were damaged.

Close by Hanmer Springs on Lewis Pass was closer to the epicentre but never had to be closed off. Christchurch is over 200 kms away from Kaikoura.

All airports remained open, but State Highway 1 between Blenheim, Kaikoura and Cheviot got precariously damaged. It reopened in December 2017, but there may still be delays.

Picton, Blenheim, Nelson, Lewis Pass, Arthur's Pass, the West Coast, Christchurch and Wellington are all open for tourism!


Best check the AA Roadwatch website to see if Kaikoura is reachable via SH1 or the long and twisty Inland Road in the south and which detours are necessary:

New Zealand - Kaikoura Earthquake

Christchurch earthquake

New Zealand’s worst disaster happened on 22nd of February 2011. A terrible 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch has destroyed the heritage city centre and surrounding suburbs, 185 people have lost their lives in horrible circumstances, countless have suffered injuries, damaged homes, job losses, business closures and highly uncomfortable living conditions. 8800 buildings will be demolished in the end, among them half the high rises in the city. The earthquake struck 6 months after a first big shake and since then there were thousands of aftershocks, people in Christchurch still live in fear of another disaster - something that will take years to heal.

Christchurch will be rebuilt stronger and safer than before, the compassion of fellow New Zealanders is enormous and the community spirit shown is another proof of why New Zealand is such a great country.
New Zealand Earthquake

New Zealand Earthquake

New Zealand Earthquake

New Zealand Earthquake

Travel implications for Christchurch

Apart from the close Christchurch region suffering aftershocks, the risk of earthquakes in New Zealand is not higher than it was before. Many other regions in New Zealand have no earthquake risk at all to consider, others are stable for a long time.

There was a lot of bad luck involved in this big earthquake:

  • it hit New Zealand’s second biggest city hit directly in its centre
  • it was very shallow which made it more destructive than the 7.1-magnitude 4 September 2010 earthquake
  • it was the first big earthquake disaster in New Zealand since 1931
  • it occurred during lunchtime when the city centre was full of people and
  • it hit buildings already weakened by hundreds of aftershocks from the previous earthquake.

Actually it could have been worse because New Zealand has for a long time adopted very strict building regulations considering earthquake risk. These regulations will probably be revised to make them even safer than before, thus improving the infrastructure of Christchurch and all other cities.

Christchurch airport is open and was not damaged by the quake. Christchurch is still the gateway to the south and depending on the availability of accommodation providers there is no reason why you should change your travel plans. The Canterbury region needs your support, the tourism providers need to survive this long recovery ahead.

The reconstruction:

  • It is estimated that the total Christchurch rebuild costs NZD 40 billion, resulting with a 21st century city that is extremely liveable and safe.
  • In October 2011 the new Re: Start Mall has opened consisting of lots of interesting and creative container shops in Cashel Street.
  • In March 2012 the enlarged Rugby League Park was reopened (the Christchurch Rugby Stadium).
  • April 2013: opening of a new international terminal in Christchurch Airport.
  • As a temporary cathedral and innovative special attraction the 'Cardboard Cathedral' (partly made of cardboard) was inaugurated with 700 seats.
  • Quake City in Cashel Street is an interesting museum about the Christchurch earthquake.
  • The central business district area will be less than half the size of before, with more residential areas close to the centre, walkable, with even more green parks - especially along the river where much of the area is redzoned, which leaves a wonderful potential for natural reserves very close to the centre.

See Risks and dangers in New Zealand for more information.

New Zealand Earthquake

New Zealand Earthquake

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