August 18, 2013 - Wellington, New Zealand

My last day in Wellington was possibly the most exciting day of my entire trip so far...  I survived one of New Zealand's biggest ever earthquakes. Damn that sounds cool.
I'd gone into town alone to do some shopping and had arranged to meet Jayne at 3:15 outside Bethan's school for a lift home. At 2.30 I was walking  underneath the corrugated iron roof of a mall entrance when the earth started moving a few feet from side to side and I thought the roof might fall on me. The roof was shaking and creaking violently and I was stumbling around, wondering why I felt so dizzy and if I was going insane. It's a good job the infrastructure in Wellington is world class because I did not follow the earth quake advice I'd been given one bit. It took a few beats for my brain to catch up, and I vaguely remember being torn between standing in the mall door frame (door frames are safe) and getting the hell away from the shaking roof. When the earth stopped moving I just chilled out and smiled to myself thinking "awesome. I finally felt one!" There's been a few earthquakes every day I've been in New Zealand but they're so tiny you can't feel them. Some poor bloke had been pulling out of his parking space when the earthquake hit, and now he was assessing the damage after bumping into the car in front.
It wasn't until the office workers piled out of their buildings into the streets, panicking and telling anyone and everyone how scary it was that it dawned on me this wasn't your regular quake. I was still pretty clueless though, I kept shopping and walking around happily until it was time to meet Jayne. Outside of the quiet pedestrianised shopping area, the city was chaotic. I pushed my way through the crowds at the bus stop wondering why everyone in Wellington was suddenly stood in my way. I'm such a tourist.
When I found Jayne she told me the city was being evacuated, and we waited with Bethan's friends until their parents arrived. They were all very shaken, and as we stood leaning against the car, it started to shake violently again. Now I knew what was going on I could look around and take it all in (we were also stood in a much safer place at this point). The windows of the buildings were flexing and bending, and we could actually hear the buildings squeaking. The original quake registered 6.6 on the richter scale at a very shallow depth of 8km, very similar to the quake that destroyed Christchurch two years ago. This aftershock was 6.2.
Whilst we waited for the girls parents I went up some stairs to use the bathroom. The staff in a cafe were busy sweeping up the mess, as the plaster had fallen off the walls and ceiling and there were some serious cracks in the stairwell.
Back at the house we felt another huge aftershock which was 5.7 on the scale. Jayne shouted us all to get under the door frames so we all huddled together. So much excitement! Their house is up on the hill overlooking the harbour, and after this 5.7 aftershock we could see the sea, which had previously looked like a lake, swelling and rippling. So cool. Jayne said they had a tsunami warning once, and they stood in the living room, terrified, waiting for it to come. Luckily it never did.
Over dinner we had a further five aftershocks, but they were dying down slowly. We went to bed that night with torches in case another hit. They can often knock out the power so we needed to be prepared to evacuate the house if needs be. Yikes!
And that's it. That was New Zealand. I've met some awesome people and seen some really beautiful things. I'd be sad to leave, only I'm going to Argentina to see my mum and dad and I can't blinkin' wait!!!

1 Comment

Joyce's Pick:
August 18, 2013
Hi Rhian. Looking forward to reading Dawn and Ian's blog entries. Can they possibly match yours? I had a text from Buenos Aires yesterday so am guessing the fun is about to begin. Love to all. Joyce. Xx
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