A simulation shows the widespread damage that could occur if the South Island's Alpine Fault ruptures.
Scientists, working as part of Project Alpine Fault Magnitude 8 (AF8), have marked the end of their first two years of work planning and preparing for a severe magnitude eight earthquake.
The fault line along the South Island ruptures roughly every 300 years. The last time was in 1717.
The simulation is part of a series of videos created by Project AF8 so people can better understand and be prepared for such a event.
It shows a rupture starting at the southern end of the Southern Alps and moving north toward Wellington.
A 400 km rupture of the fault is expected to happen within our lifetime, which will have a broad impact on much of the South Island's critical infrastructure, Project AF8 lead scientist Dr Caroline Orchiston says.
She says the more people prepare for such an event the easier life will be after it happens.
Project AF8 Steering Group chair Angus McKay says the next research focus is creating a more in depth plan of how to help those people who will be worse affected.