On 14th November 2016, I was rudely awakened just after midnight by an earthquake. Not just any earthquake, but by the massive 7.8 that was felt over the whole of New Zealand. I stood in the door frame absolutely terrified as it went on and on and on for just over two minutes. It was the longest two minutes in my life. I thought I was going to lose my house.
Miraculously only two people died, and while there was much damage, it could have been a whole lot worse. 21 faults were ruptured in this earthquake, making it the most complex quake ever. While the epicentre was in Culverden, it was felt most strongly north of that, particularly where I was, and in Wellington. Consequently, a number of buildings in Wellington have had to be pulled down.
I dread what the casualties would have been had it happened just after noon instead of just after midnight. The massive slips that came down onto our main highway, would have possibly buried many tourists and locals going about their daily business and we would have seen much higher casualty rates.
As the reports came in, we found that the sea bed had risen by between 1 and 6 metres all along the coast from Just south of Blenheim (where I live), to Goose Bay - south of Kaikoura - approximately 150km in length.
I had been meaning to go out and look at the changes for ages, but today was the first day that I could finally go. Together my friend Kate and I went exploring with our cameras.
First stop was Ward Beach. The main Highway 1 was pretty smooth until about 10k north of Ward, when we started getting uneven surfaces, and we could see where the cracks had been patched with new tar that snaked across the road in places.What was very striking was the fact there was no traffic. Highway 1 is usually fairly busy - but we only saw one or two cars, and the odd truck that was hauling earth from the massive slips down Kaikoura way.
I was shocked at what I saw at Ward Beach. Where once you saw very few rocks and mainly water, rocks had now been exposed...
You can now see where the new high waterline is compared to the old. The green shows the new high line, the white is the dead seaweed, and barnaces that used to be below the water.
And the rocks go for miles down the beach, which was once just beach..
In the next image, you can clearly see the new high tide line - where the seaweed (kelp) lies in the first third of the image. The old high tide line is up where the white rocks at the bottom of the hill are.
and The top of the hill has had a massive slip..
Dead seaweed and dead barnacles. You can still smell the rotting vegetation.
This is what the seaweed should look like, not the dead bleached above.
Everywhere there was brown or green stagnant rockpools...
Breeding Mosquitoes and their larvae (Yes I got bitten taking these photos!)
This used to be a rockpool about 4 metres from the low tide. The rockpool had dried out and the mussels died.
Those mussels above are where Kate is resting her hand, and where she is standing is now high and dry, which shows how far the seabed has risen.
Uncovered rocks as far as one can see..
In the following image, I'm standing where the High Tide mark used to be, and the new high tide mark is where all the seaweed is - far below me.
The stick standing is is the old High Tide Marker.
Looking up the coast....
In September 2015, we had a camera club trip out there, and fellow photographer Sarah Kerr took this image which clearly shows.... only a few rocks out of the water.
The coast is still pretty though...
After the beach we carried down the highway to see how far we could get. We came across road damage...
A train tunnel is at the right, and the road had collapsed above it. Workers were there on a break and they explained the tunnel had twisted a bit, and they were there fixing it.
Every bridge we went across had come away at each end from the bank, and each one had been patched.
But Clarence River still looks beautiful.
Over the Bridge over the Clarence, and we come across this lovely crack in the road. Quite deep. And that was as far as we could go - the road was closed from there on until Kaikoura and won't be open until Christmas time. Massive slips are blocking the highway, so sluicing the tonnes of rockfall out is going to take quite some time.
We decided to go inland for a bit of an exploration from Clarence. We found a beautiful counry road that was easy driving...
We also found a wild apple tree on the side of the road and I now have a bag of apples to stew up.
This next image shows Clarence's newest Lake, formed because of the slips in the river.
We then headed back, stopped for lunch at Seddon and called into Denise's for a cuppa afterwards.
And while I was writing this up, I felt my first earthquake I had felt for a while - a moderate 4.8 that was centred in Wellington.
Just mother nature reminding us who is in charge!