Quake prep: How would you get home if the 'big one' hit?

6:43 pm on 1 March 2024
Participants during a quick run to refreshments during the Long Walk Home

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Beautiful weather kept spirits up for the more than 300 people walking from central Wellington to Mana.

The Long Walk Home, organised by the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office, aims to bring awareness of the realities of getting home after a natural disaster, such as an earthquake.

Participants, including families, set out from Sky Stadium after 1pm for their destination at Ngāti Toa Domain, where refreshments and a barbecue awaited.

Wellington Region Emergency Management Office community resilience and recovery manager Dan Neely said about 80,000 people could have to make their way home on foot if a large quake struck during work hours, as roads and public transport would be likely unusable.

Community Resilience and Recovery Manager Dan Neely

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

He said the Long Walk Home event came about after the 2013 Seddon earthquake.

"It happened on a Friday afternoon. Airport and train lines were closed for inspection, with no bus replacements available for some time," he said. "A whole bunch of people had to walk home or stay with friends or whānau."

While the 2013 earthquake did not cause road, rail and infrastructure damage, Neely said in the big one, this would be different.

He said they wanted to do a real-world activity based on if a bigger earthquake were to strike, to highlight the importance of being prepared.

Walkers getting refreshments during the Long Walk Home

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

"We want to make this event as realistic as possible, for people to think about what they would need to do, should an event like that happen."

Not everyone was walking the entire 30km, with many stopping when they got to the nearest checkpoint to their home.

One walker said they had decided to dress in their full work gear to see what that would actually be like for them.

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