An unexpected long weekend

Yesterday morning, during another sizeable earthquake before breakfast, I raced out of bed down my hallway though the kitchen and was about to head outside when I realized, I am not dressed for this.

I spent Sunday mostly lounging around; doing chores, cooking, reading, watching DVDs, monitoring compulsively and reaffirming all the quakes I felt and their recorded sizes, then at precisely 5:09pm we got the largest earthquake so far. A 6.5 magnitude earthquake was centred in the Cook Strait, 20 kilometres east of Seddon at a depth of 17 kilometres.

I ran for the kitchen door and found I hadn’t left it open. Spent a minute wrestling with the lock and ye olde key as the building shook, windows rattled, lights and mirrors swung and the door literally moved up and down in front of me. It was as if we were on a boat in a swell, everything would go up, and then down.

featherston st

Finally got the door open and stepped into the garden. All I could hear were streets full of car alarms, triggered by the movement. A pause, and then the first emergency responders raced down the road, sirens blaring.

The internet went down, and calls couldn’t get through, but my friends and I managed to SMS each other, and ensure we were all OK. Yay for the Wellington phone tree! I met my neighbours down the hall, who were doing a building sweep and came to make sure I was ok, and the Wellington Free Ambulance, who are next door to the apartment building also came over to make sure there were no injuries. One of the nice things about living in a small city.

grab and go

I finally decided it was time to get serious. I unwrapped the plastic from items in my grab and go bag, added bananas, mandarins, a radio, vitamins, cutlery, a sharp knife and filled 3 water bottles. The pasta salad I made for lunches this week was divided up into plastic containers, and stacked next to the grab bag.

I then headed up to the supermarket which was still open but a mess as random produce had been launched all over the floor – and which was especially bad in the soft drink aisle, where the plastic containers had basically exploded on impact and squirted sticky fizzy drink everywhere.


I bought candles, lighters, extra batteries, more water and some meal replacement bars to round out my grab bag.
My phone was on charger, and I decided to also pack my bag now for Christchurch and Dunedin (I am heading there this week for work) so if I needed to leave, all my stuff was in one place. My thick winter coat was placed next to the kitchen door, and I left my sneakers on just in case.
The rest of the night was filled with SMS’s, trying to get info (my tv antennae was knocked out of alignment), surfing the net, reading Stuff, and surfing through the minor aftershocks.
Finally I got too tired to stay awake, and as the adrenaline had worn off I was super tired. I went to bed with a plan to run down the hall grabbing essentials as I passed them, jumping into sneakers, shrugging into my thick coat and out the door into the dark. And after all that, I was woken twice by earthquakes, but they were not large enough to worry about. Stuff reports that between midnight and 6am today, 34 quakes were recorded in GeoNet’s preliminary reading. The largest this morning was a 4.9 quake at 3.15am.

Work has been cancelled today, and people advised to stay out of the CBD while they get engineers in to look at the buildings. Apparently there is quite a bit of damage in the central city, and more in the port, where previously reclaimed land has been liberated again, taking with it a shipping container.


It’s quite nice to have today off, but I would have preferred something less dramatic!

(Main photo 5th floor ANZ building, photo David Garlick, other photos courtesy of