International naval ships bound for Kaikoura to provide earthquake relief

The Navy ship has begun evacuating tourists out of Kaikoura
The Navy ship has begun evacuating tourists out of Kaikoura

Hundreds of people have been evacuated by sea today from earthquake hit Kaikoura.

They were ferried by inflatable craft out to the Navy's HMNZS Canterbury, which will depart for the eight hours trip to Lyttelton.

The Canterbury came to Kaikoura with the Wellington, which was used to survey the coastline for a mooring spot for the bigger vessel.

The Canterbury had planned to use its landing craft to take up to 100 at a time, but 2m swells put a stop to that.

On shore those left stranded by the quake waited patiently to be taken to the Canterbury 10 at a time.

Frustrated Kaikoura locals have told a public meeting they fear they're being forgotten as tourists are evacuated from the town. 

Civil Defence controller John Mackey told the meeting that 700 tourists will be evacuated by the end of day. The journey to Lyttelton is expected to take about eight hours. 

The crowd was told the hospital is currently at peak capacity, with many residents suffering from anxiety after the quake and subsequent aftershocks. 

Locals say they're frustrated at not being able to drive to the shops to buy food and supplies, as there is no petrol for non-emergency services. Petrol is being allocated on a "needs basis". 

Rural Kaikoura resident Eliza said that with all the focus on the township and the tourists, those living in rural areas were "getting nothing" and they felt left out.

"The farming communities need fuel to keep the generators going, to get water to the stock and keep things going." 

Mr Mackey said that "by the end of today there'll be sustainable water points around the town" and assured the crowd that the return trip of the HMNZS Canterbury will bring portaloos for the quake-stricken town. 

He also told locals that the seven ships coming to Kaikoura are filled with supplies to restock supermarkets. 

International naval ships bound for Kaikoura to provide earthquake relief


Medical officer Alistair Humphrey warned that while there had been no outbreaks of gastro yet, if there is "it's going to spread like wildfire very quickly". 

Residents are reminded to boil water and use the steri-gel being provided. 

Civil Defence also told people not to collect any fish or paua off the coast, as it was likely to be contaminated. Instead 50 bins of fresh fish will be given away in front of the hospital on Wednesday afternoon. 

Two construction crews working on excavating the damaged  inland road towards Kaikoura have finally met either side of a large slip.

Forty-seven kilometres outside the isolated township, the two crews are now working together to try and regain road access into the town.

One team has been working on repairing the road from the Kaikoura side, the other making their way into the area from Mount Lyford.

International naval ships bound for Kaikoura to provide earthquake relief

More than 150 people have now boarded HMNZS Canterbury, with more continuing to leave the town.  

A Navy spokesperson said "we'll only be limited by the number of life jackets we have - we'll take anyone who wants to go".

International naval ships bound for Kaikoura to provide earthquake relief


The ship crew are taking 10 to 11 people at a time onto their inflatable landing crafts. The Navy says evacuations could take several hours, depending on how many people wish to get on board. 

International naval ships bound for Kaikoura to provide earthquake relief

Evacuees included Kaikoura resident Esmae and her dog Bandit. (Newshub)

Prime Minister John Key has given a frank assessment of the extensive damage to SH1 through Kaikoura after seeing it from above.  

During a flyover in a Royal New Zealand Air Force plane, Mr Key and Transport Minister Simon Bridges discussed massive slips which had totally obliterated the road.

"Look at this road here, this is really stuffed and there's thousands of metres of it. I just don't see how you can ever repair that bit of road," Mr Key pointed out. 

"The whole mountain has moved over."

He said the damage to the area was worse than he initially thought on his earlier visit on Monday, where they had seen the northernmost damage.

"We thought 'that's not too bad'. Then we got to here."

Mr Key has promised to fast-track help to keep local businesses afloat at a meeting with farmers and business people in the town on Wednesday.

International naval ships bound for Kaikoura to provide earthquake relief

The slips have caused road closures throughout the area (Newshub)

The HMNZS Canterbury has arrived in Kaikoura, to help the with the relief effort after Monday's earthquake. 

International warships headed to the International Naval Review have also been diverted to Kaikoura. 

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has accepted offers of help from naval ships from the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan and Singapore. 

The USS Sampson, HMAS Darwin and HMCS Vancouver are heading to Kaikoura, where their helicopters will help deliver supplies and evacuate people.

The USS Sampson was due to arrive in Auckland today as part of the 75th anniversary of the New Zealand Navy.

Its arrival in Kaikoura will be the first time a US warship has docked in New Zealand since the ANZUS security alliance break up in 1986.

The HMNZS Wellington is on its way to Kaikoura, and the New Zealand Navy will also send the HMNZS Te Kaha and tanker ship HMNZS Endeavour.

Kaikoura was hardest hit by Monday morning's massive magnitude 7.5 quake, where two people died.

The town is cut off by road and its water supply is running low.

Civil Defence said at a briefing this morning that cellphone coverage and electricity in quake-stricken Kaikoura have increased, but there are still outages around the area. 

Some residents have taken tourists into the community, offering food and shelter for those displaced.

Two hundred people were evacuated from the area yesterday, but there are 700 - 1000 people still waiting to leave.

The Canterbury District Health Board has reported at least 56 injuries in Kaikoura. Four patients have been flown to Christchurch since Monday. 

Fifty percent of Kaikoura has access to water - that's expected to improve to 75 percent today. 

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has welcomed the international aid. 

"It's heartening to see overseas partners so willing to alter their plans and offer their assistance," he said.

"The International Naval Review is all about celebrating 75 years of the Royal New Zealand Navy and the bonds it has forged globally.

"Despite the changes to the planned celebrations, it's poignant to see the anniversary marked with such cooperation and camaraderie."

A 7am update by Geonet revealed that there had been 307 earthquakes since 7pm, with 18 of them being over magnitude four. There had been 1572 earthquakes since Monday's magnitude 7.5 shake.