In terms of human life the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit New Zealand this month was relatively merciful: two fatalities.
But geologically it moved roads and mountains and even displaced the sea – leaving a formidable mark from which tourism – farming and life in general may need years to recover.From the air the power of the Nov. 14 quake becomes clear.It was strong enough to raise entire sections of the seabed and send hillsides tumbling across State Highway One – which winds along the coastline into Kaikoura.Until last week it was the main route for tourists heading south from the town of Picton for whale-watching boat trips; now it’s deserted.
‘If you go from Kaikoura north – that road is a complete and utter mess’ Prime Minister John Key told several dozen locals during a trip to the area Thursday.
‘Like it is way worse than anything I’ve seen.
So just to get a bit of perspective the whole mountain has moved in a number of places.
And so the road which used to go round the coast looks like it’s going into a mountain’.
The geological changes on the northeastern coast of South Island will affect locals and the tourist season – which reaches its peak from December through February.
This South Pacific nation of fewer than 5 million welcomes more than 3 million tourists each year.