Quake aftermath: What you need to know today

10:11 am on 15 November 2016

Kaikoura remains shut off, parts of Wellington are still behind cordons and more wild weather is expected after yesterday's devastating quake. Here's what you need to know.

Tourists attempt to make contact with their family after the quake.

Stranded tourists attempt to make contact with their family after the quake. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Kaikoura rescue

Mass evacuations are due to begin this morning from Kaikoura, which remains cut off from all sides.

Pressure is mounting on fuel and supplies in the town, and Civil Defence says there are only three days supply of fresh water left.

HMNZS Canterbury has been sailing to Kaikoura overnight from Auckland, picking up supplies on the way, and is expected to arrive by tomorrow.

The Defence Force says it aims to evacuate about 200 people from Kaikoura today.

Air Commodore Darryn Webb says the police are deciding who should be evacuated first in four Air Force helicopters from the local rugby grounds.

St John paramedics will be helicoptered into Kaikoura later today to relieve crews and deliver supplies.

The ambulance service continues to operate a national crisis coordination centre there today, working alongside Civil Defence, Government, and emergency and health agencies.

St John has two fully crewed ambulances operating in Kaikoura, plus air ambulance cover.


Some roads have reopened, but the major route down the upper east coast of the South Island remains impassable.

  • State Highway 1 is closed from Cheviot in North Canterbury, all the way north to Seddon in Marlborough this morning.
  • State Highway 1 from Picton to Blenheim is open, but road users are advised to take extra care because of quake damage.
  • State Highway 7A from Hamner Springs to Tekoa Range is closed.
  • State Highway 7 between Springs Junction and Waipara is now open, but has earthquake damage and road users are advised to take extra care.

An alternative route to link Picton and Christchurch is now open through Murchison and the Lewis Pass.

The Transport Agency is working urgently with Kaikoura District Council to open the inland road between Culverden and Kaikoura to re-establish access for isolated communities.

NZTA highway manager Neil Walker says one priority is the large slips that are blocking State Highway One on either side of Kaikoura.

He says heavy rains, strong winds and continuing aftershocks are posing a risk of further slips and rockfalls in all quake-affected regions, and drivers should avoid non-essential travel.

Public transport

Metlink says commuter rail services in Wellington are expected to return to normal schedules today.

The capital's bus services are running, but there are diversions are in place in the central business district to allow inspection of buildings for quake and wind damage.

Wellington's harbour ferry service is not operating today because of damage to the Days Bay wharf, but Eastbourne bus services are running as normal.

The Interislander Cook Strait ferry service will resume a limited service today after sailings were disrupted yesterday.

KiwiRail said the Kaiarahi and Kaitaki ferries were scheduled to sail between Wellington and Picton today, but will carry freight and vehicle passengers only.

Foot traffic passengers are suspended due to terminal damage.

KiwiRail passenger services including the TranzAlpine, the Northern Explorer, and the Capital Connection are all operating today. All freight lines in the North Island are also operating.

Wellington Railway Station has been assessed and has been cleared to re-open today.

Kiwirail reiterated it would be some time before the badly damaged Picton to Christchurch rail line was back working.

Two freight-only Interislander ferry crossings of Cook Strait were made last night, but passenger services are yet to resume.

Wellington central

Some areas of the Wellington CBD remain cordoned off due to the risk of falling glass and debris. Civil Defence said there were some instances of broken glass being dislodged by wind overnight.

Central Wellington will be open for business today, but Civil defence said people will need to use their common-sense and check with their employers whether their building has been cleared to enter.

Several courts in Wellington will be closed today. The Ministry of Justice has confirmed the Wellington District Court, Wellington High Court, the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court will all be closed today, along with the Hutt Valley District Court.

In addition, the ministry's headquarters, the Waitangi Tribunal, Pastoral House in central Wellington and the Blenheim District Court will be shut today.


More wild weather is expected in the lower North Island in the next 24 hours, but it's not expected to compound problems in areas worst-affected by yesterday's earthquake.

Strong gusts and rainfall have been affecting the lower North Island around Taranaki, Wellington and the Wairarapa overnight.

But MetService meteorologist April Clarke says Kaikoura and the South Island's east coast should be among the driest parts of the country today, which will help with recovery efforts.

Gale force winds of up to 140kmh are expected to continue in Wellington, Wairarapa and Marlborough. The capital is also expected to receive 40-60 millimetres of rain this morning.

Heavy rain is also forecast for Westland, Buller and Nelson, Kapiti, Horowhenua, the Tararua Range and central North Island high country areas from Whanganui and Taranaki to Ruapehu.

Most schools reopen

It appears that most of the 276 schools that closed yesterday are reopening today and offering NCEA and Scholarship exams as normal.

The schools in Wellington, Nelson-Marlborough and North Canterbury had closed while engineers checked their buildings.

Universities and tertiary institutions in the affected area also reopened, but the two Wellington region institutes of technology, Weltec and Whitireia remain closed.

Hurunui College and two area schools in North Canterbury reopened only for exams but bus services to the schools were not running.

The Education Ministry yesterday had doubts about whether schools in the Kaikoura area would reopen, mostly due to access to water.

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