Travel News » September 2010 » Travelling to New Zealand safe in spite of earthquake

Travelling to New Zealand safe in spite of earthquake


An earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale struck 30km away from Christchurch, New Zealand in the early hours of Saturday morning. There was extensive damage in Christchurch but thankfully no one died. A state of emergency in Christchurch has been enforced, which was extended until 15 September 2010 when an aftershock hit the Lyttelton area.

It's likely that anyone travelling to New Zealand will be unaffected by the damage caused by the earthquake. Travelling to places outside Christchurch will certainly not be a problem.

Anyone that has a holiday booked in Christchurch should contact their travel provider before travelling to New Zealand, as parts of the city remain closed for safety reasons. But 98% of tourist attractions and accommodation establishments are open as normal. Christchurch airport remains open and car rental companies are fully operational.

Orana Wildlife Park and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve are open for visitors in spite of the damage they sustained during the earthquake. Southern Encounter Aquarium was badly hit and the complex suffered severe water damage when water from the fish tanks slopped over the sides during the quake. Currently closed, the aquarium hopes to reopen on Thursday.

The Foreign Office has updated the New Zealand section of their website to include information about the earthquakes and aftershocks. They will update their travel advice regularly if anything changes, but for now, they have not advised against people travelling to New Zealand.

If you are currently on holiday in New Zealand, listen to the local radio (Radio NZ is a useful station). They should announce any changes to the situation in Christchurch. Make sure you contact friends and family at home to let them know you are safe and well.

The earthquake in New Zealand had a higher magnitude than the one that hit Haiti, which killed in excess of 200,000 people. And yet, in New Zealand, no one was killed. New Zealand has an infrastructure that can cope with strong earthquakes. Homes and office buildings are largely constructed from timber frames that absorb the impact of an earthquake, while historic buildings have been fitted with dampening devices to prevent collapse.

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