Marlborough Express reporter HELEN HILL writes about her experience driving north from Kaikoura to Marlborough when the earthquake this afternoon.
Driving through an earthquake was a new experience for me.
It was 3.10pm and I had just slowed to 80kmh coming into Ward from the south when the car wobbled from side to side as if it was being pulled by four pieces of elastic - one on each corner.
I wondered if I had a flat tyre, but thought surely I would have felt it earlier. Then I noticed two or three cars coming towards me driving very slowly and the whole scene felt quite eerie.
Not far on the northern side of Ward I saw a lot of rock and mud slides, and realised I'd seen a few on the southern side as well, but put it down to wet weather.
The number of rock and mud slides grew the closer I got to Seddon.
Some were so big the road was down to one lane.
I crunched on to a small bridge and realised that what looked like a width of black seal where the bridge met the road was actually a gap in the carriageway.
The car was also bumping over raised sections of seal where what I now know to have been a series of earthquakes had played havoc with the landscape.
About 1km south of the saltworks at Grassmere, at Clifford Bay, I came across a policeman from Blenheim directing traffic through another large landslip.
He was hurrying them along, saying the road was going to be closed and I should move on quickly to Blenheim for the same reason.
I stopped to take a photo of a buckled street light at Tetley Brook Rd corner and while I was sitting in the car I felt a strong rolling motion that seemed to go on for more than a minute.
Best stay put, I thought, almost too fascinated to get out and take the photo.
There were numerous cracks in the road, vertical and horizontal, and driving along the aftershocks continued to shake the car.
Further on there was a huge crack in the road on the south slope of the Lion's Back hill, about 8 metres long and maybe up to 10cm wide.
At Seddon, police were warning people not to drive south. The road north between Seddon and Blenheim did not appear to be damaged, although there were a few slips on Weld Pass.
At Riverlands, on the outskirts of Blenheim, police were on the road again telling people they could go no further than Seddon. Some continued on - maybe they only intended to go that far - while others turned back.
SPORTS EDITOR PETER JONES
I was driving home to Blenheim after spending the day at Clifford Bay and had just passed through Seddon when the quake hit.
Initially I thought my car's steering had malfunctioned or all my tyres had blown - then I saw the road ahead moving up and down and realised what was happening.
I stopped at the top of the Weld Pass to send a text then, on the way down the pass, came across a slip blocking the other side of the road. It was a mixture of rocks and dirt.
A ute, also going north, had stopped beside it and a van had pulled up behind him. Both drivers hopped out of their vehicles and began clearing the smallish rocks off the road with their hands, so I joined in.
It took 3 or 4 minutes for us to get the biggest of the rocks off the road. By then south-bound traffic had stopped on the other side of the slip and when the rocks were cleared they began to drive through.
Barely a word was spoken as we jumped back in our cars and carried on to Blenheim.
As I drove through town it seemed everyone was on their cellphones, both drivers and pedestrians.
All the staff had gathered outside Springlands Fresh Choice, in Middle Renwick Rd, and it was parking chaos outside Springlands School in Murpheys Rd as the parents flocked to gather up their kids.
- The Marlborough Express