Stranded Kaikoura tourists overwhelmed by generosity as helicopters fly evacuees out video

Tourists disembark a military helicopter transporting earthquake evacuees from Kaikoura, landing in the Woodend School ...
JOSEPH JOHNSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Tourists disembark a military helicopter transporting earthquake evacuees from Kaikoura, landing in the Woodend School grounds.

Tourists stranded in Kaikoura hunkered down on church pews and marae mattresses before waking to a breakfast of donated crayfish.

Dozens of tourists and stranded residents are now beginning to be evacuated from the quake hit tourist town.

The first lot of evacuees were taken by New Zealand Defence Force helicopter to Woodend on Tuesday morning.

A Kaikoura evacuee disembarks the first New Zealand Defence Force helicopter as it arrives in Woodend.
GETTY

A Kaikoura evacuee disembarks the first New Zealand Defence Force helicopter as it arrives in Woodend.

Battered by thunderstorms and aftershocks, visitors and residents will be given the option to fly out of the region on Tuesday - if the weather permits.

READ MORE:
Live: 7.5 New Zealand quake
Kaikoura faces wait for help
Kaikoura aid package considered
Heavy rain, gales hit
Alternative route for Chch to Picton

 
Medical staff assist a Kaikoura quake evacuee from a military helicopter.
GETTY

Medical staff assist a Kaikoura quake evacuee from a military helicopter.

The township remains unreachable by road, due to massive slips and damage on State Highway 1 after a magnitude 7.5 quake hit just after midnight on Monday morning.

Helicopter crews from across the South Island are working overtime, with extra flights being put on by many companies.

The navy is also en route to the tourist hotspot, which is currently only accessible by sea and air.

All smiles as stranded Kaikoura tourists reach the safety of Woodend
GETTY

All smiles as stranded Kaikoura tourists reach the safety of Woodend

"We are looking at four flights [Tuesday] morning and a total of 16 flights today. I must reiterate that's all weather dependent as is HMNZS Canterbury," New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Senior Lieutenant Commander Geoff Andrew said.

MetService forecasted spots of rain early Tuesday, but expected the rest of the day to be fine, with a high of 27 degrees Celsius.

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A severe weather warning had been issued for Marlborough earlier, but the forecast severe gales were expected to ease mid-morning.

A heavy rain warning for the Richmond and Bryant Ranges had already been lifted.

At Takahanga Marae, volunteers and employees from quake-affected businesses joined forces to serve food to hundreds of ...
IAIN MCGREGOR

At Takahanga Marae, volunteers and employees from quake-affected businesses joined forces to serve food to hundreds of people.

A MATTRESS AT THE MARAE WITH CRAYFISH FOR BREAKFAST

Tourists stranded in Kaikoura say they're "overwhelmed" with the generosity and support of locals.

Kaikoura residents opened their doors to strangers who were looking for a place to sleep after Monday's magnitude 7.5 earthquake.

The Takahanga Marae put on a breakfast feed of 1.5 tonne of crayfish for locals and tourists.
IAIN MCGREGOR

The Takahanga Marae put on a breakfast feed of 1.5 tonne of crayfish for locals and tourists.

Others offered breakfast and dinner to people walking past their homes.

At Takahanga Marae, volunteers and employees from quake-affected businesses joined forces to serve food to hundreds of people.

About 90 people hunkered down there overnight Monday, sleeping on mattresses supplied by the marae and Civil Defence.

Jason Timms cooking crayfish.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Jason Timms cooking crayfish.

Takahanga deputy chair Major Timms said Ngai Tahu donated 1.5 tonne of crayfish. Local stores New World and Four Square provided other supplies.

Volunteers he had never seen before and staff from the earthquake-affected Adelphi Hotel were working together in the kitchen to make meals. 

They fed up to 900 people on Monday night. Crayfish was on the menu on Tuesday morning.

Couples with young children were among the first tourists to be evacuated from Kaikoura.
GETTY

Couples with young children were among the first tourists to be evacuated from Kaikoura.

"It's amazing what they are doing. They are doing a bloody good job," Timms said.

MILITARY EVACUATIONS

A pregnant woman and her family were among dozens evacuated from Kaikoura on military helicopters.

Stranded tourists put their names down a helicopter flight out of Kaikoura.
SAM SHERWOOD/FAIRFAX NZ

Stranded tourists put their names down a helicopter flight out of Kaikoura.

The helicopters landed in Woodend School grounds in Canterbury.

John and Rebecca Creswell were evacuated with their three children Sean, 9, Tyler, 4, and Olly, 2.

Rebecca Creswell was given priority evacuation as she is pregnant.

Woodend school-children watch as the helicopter lands.
GETTY

Woodend school-children watch as the helicopter lands.

They were on a long weekend camping trip in Kaikoura when the quake struck.

They spent last night sleeping in a car as they wanted to be on high ground.

"I want go home and I want my bed," she said.

Many tourists spent the night sleeping on church pews or on a mattress at the Takahanga Marae.
Martin Hunter

Many tourists spent the night sleeping on church pews or on a mattress at the Takahanga Marae.

"It is good to be here. The ground isn't moving. The whole time since Sunday it has been moving."

"My ankles are very swollen and I need to go home and put my feet up."

People were also arriving from Kaikoura on specially chartered flights to Christchurch Airport.

Tourists trapped by the Kaikoura earthquakes arrive by military helicopters at Woodend School grounds.
GETTY

Tourists trapped by the Kaikoura earthquakes arrive by military helicopters at Woodend School grounds.

German tourist Hannah Hoemberg arrived Tuesday with friends Katharina Peskeldis and Sophia Roettgen.

The group arrived in Christchurch on Saturday and Kaikoura was their first stop on a coach tour of New Zealand.

They now planned to leave New Zealand and fly to Sydney, Australia to continue their trip.

Stranded tourists wait to get out of Kaikoura.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Stranded tourists wait to get out of Kaikoura.

"We are relieved," Hoemberg said.

"We are so glad we are on safe ground now."

"It was terrifying. There were all these aftershocks coming through."

Dozens of stranded tourists are waiting for a ride out of Kaikoura.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Dozens of stranded tourists are waiting for a ride out of Kaikoura.

"We wanted to see the whole of the South Island and we were looking forward to it but now we've experienced these earthquakes we want to get away from here."

SLEEPING ON CHURCH PEWS

German tourists Christiane and Jochan Wichmann were stranded in Kaikoura in their campervan with little food. 

Kaikoura residents will be able to fly out on Tuesday, if weather allows.
ROBERT KITCHIN/FAIRFAX MEDIA

Kaikoura residents will be able to fly out on Tuesday, if weather allows.

They were "absolutely overwhelmed" by the generosity of the locals, Christiane Wichmann said.

"It's fantastic. They are wonderful people."

St Paul's Presbyterian Church Minister Alastair McNaughton let 30 people stay in his church after it was checked by an engineer and deemed safe.

Landslides block State Highway 1 near Kaikoura.
ROYAL NZ DEFENCE FORCE

Landslides block State Highway 1 near Kaikoura.

"It was a serious quake. The house was like being put in a washing machine," he said.

"I went to the hospital first and asked if anyone wanted to volunteer with me and all these hands went up, these people from around the world.

"We jumped in the car and went around to several houses working for several hours and they were so appreciative, it was quite humbling actually."

Stranded honeymooners Eddie and Leslie-Anne Llewelyn-Evans wait at Kaikoura airport.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

Stranded honeymooners Eddie and Leslie-Anne Llewelyn-Evans wait at Kaikoura airport.

People slept on the pews in the church, while nearby Churchill Park was "filled with people" sleeping on the grass.

Alex Moyse, from England, and Madeleine Strombac, from Sweden, said a local fisherman rescued them by giving them blankets and tea. 

16 FLIGHTS, 12 PEOPLE EACH

Ward residents Chris and Viv Young look at quake damage on State Highway 1.
ANTHONY PHELPS/REUTERS

Ward residents Chris and Viv Young look at quake damage on State Highway 1.

Andrew said it was hoped 12 evacuees could be flown out of Kaikoura on each flight, with their luggage, to Christchurch. 

"From Christchurch they need to find their own means of travel around New Zealand."

Those with illnesses, pregnant women and people with children would be given priority. 

Waiau's historic Cobb Cottage was wrecked by the quake and tsunami that followed.
STACY SQUIRES/FAIRFAX NZ

Waiau's historic Cobb Cottage was wrecked by the quake and tsunami that followed.

The navy vessel HMNZS Canterbury could carry 242 people and would "take as many as she can", Andrew said.

The vessel is expected to arrive in Kaikoura on Wednesday.

HONEYMOONERS' CONFUSION

STACY SQUIRES/FAIRFAX NZ.

The 106-year-old historic Waiau Pub has been gutted by an earthquake measuring magnitude-7.5.

Honeymooners Eddie and Leslie-Anne Llewelyn-Evans spent Sunday and Monday night at a hilltop welfare centre.

The British couple arrived in Kaikoura on Sunday night. Leslie-Anne, who had never experienced and earthquake before, was terrified as the shaking intensified.

"There was glass smashing everywhere, it went on for so long and it was so violent," she said.

Some supermarkets took precautions as water stocks ran low.
EMMA HELLEUR

Some supermarkets took precautions as water stocks ran low.

They followed the crowds up a bush trail, gleaning information from Japanese tourists who were taking calls from abroad. They were unaware a tsunami warning had been issued.

They ventured into town on Monday morning hoping to help with the clean up but an aftershock sent them running back to higher ground.

On Tuesday they drove their rental car, gas light flashing, to Kaikoura Airport in the hope of evacuation, to no avail. They were not priority passengers and poor weather prevented a second flight.

"There were a number of young families in the shelter so we knew we weren't going to be [a] priority," Leslie-Anne said.

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Prime Minister John Key says the NZTA need to think about whether they should re-align State Highway 1 near Kaikoura.

Thankfully, a friend of a friend would fly them out to Golden Bay later on Tuesday, Eddie said.

They understood about 700 people had registered with the Red Cross for evacuation. Many would have to wait for a Navy vessel due on Wednesday.

It wasn't the honeymoon they had planned but the couple did tick off one activity on their to-do list: They slept under the stars on Sunday night.

"People were in candlelight. It would have been romantic in a different setting," Eddie said.

CHINESE TOURISTS ON TOP OF A HILL

Many Chinese tourists were on Tuesday morning sitting on top of a hill, surrounded by luggage, in an area called Seaview waiting to fly to Christchurch.

William Luk, 25, from Hong Kong, said he was relieved to be leaving and felt "lucky to be alive".

The lack of cellphone reception and accessibility to the area made him feel "claustrophobic".

Luk said he was staying at a motel near the waterfront when the earthquake hit. He'd never felt one before.

"The sound was so loud. [Initially] we thought someone was trying to rob us ... banging on the door. Then everything shook."

Luk said when the shaking stopped he and a friend fled to higher ground because of the tsunami threat.

They spent the night under the stars. On Monday night they tried to stay at the emergency shelter, but it was full.

Luckily the motel took the pair in again and gave them a bed for the night, he said.

"People here are so helpful, so generous. It kind of restores your faith in humanity."

DRIVING THEMSELVES TO HOSPITAL

Health professionals in quake-stricken Kaikoura have been kept busy by "high numbers" of people taking themselves to hospital.

St John ambulance officer Sean Lester, who has in been office-in-charge since Monday morning, said a lot of people had been "self-presenting" at Kaikoura Hospital.

"We've been attending routine medical calls as well as minor trauma calls which were earthquake-related and thankfully most of those patients were able to present to the hospital themselves."

Extra staff have been brought in from Christchurch and Nelson.

OVERNIGHT AFTERSHOCKS

Hundreds of aftershocks have kept residents of North Canterbury on edge.

"It wouldn't have been the most comfortable night," Hurunui District Council chief executive Hamish Dobbie said on Tuesday morning.

Civil Defence's acting national controller Shane Bayley said anyone who wanted to get out would be able to do so on helicopter flights throughout Tuesday.

There were four NH90 helicopters in operation "ferrying people in and out as well as supplies", which would be used to fly out those wishing to leave.

Tourists began being airlifted out of the region on Monday night, with a chartered helicopter flying some Chinese nationals out, Bayley told media in a briefing at Civil Defence's national emergency control centre at Parliament.

Tour agency Stray Travel planned to fly a private plane in on Tuesday morning to carry 30 foreign tourists and their driver to Christchurch.

OFF THE GRID - LITERALLY

Niky McArthur was on the verge of tears as she talked about the state of her ecotourism business, Kaikoura Wilderness, which is located in a remote valley north of Kaikoura.

"I always thought that whatever was happening in the world we'd be self sufficient up there," she said.

Monday morning's earthquake had crippled the "off the grid" Puhi Puhi Rd business, which offered accommodation and guided walks.

Battery banks powering the lodge were destroyed, gas bottles tipped over and water tanks cracked.

The road to the site was impassable and likely would be for many months.

"I'm not sure if I'm going to cry or not. I'm quite shell-shocked. We won't be able to run a business for [at least] six months. It's going to have a devastating effect."

The full extent of the damage to the Kaikoura area was still not known.

GETTING INTO KAIKOURA

The Canterbury Civil Defence Management Group would send building inspectors and council staff into Kaikoura on Tuesday to "support the response and to boost capability on the ground".

"There's a lot of activity planned for today," Bayley said.

Power and communications were still "intermittent" and there was a big effort going on to get the inland roads into Kaikoura up and running but it will take a couple of days.

As for reopening State Highway 1, which was closed between Blenheim and Kaikoura, and Seddon and Chevior, Bayley said, "that's a major project".

In the meantime, those still in Kaikoura were asked to sit tight.

They were urged to conserve water, with just three days' supply remaining.

"The message is to conserve water and be prepared for a long period of time not being supplied properly," Bayley said.

WAIAU ACCESSIBLE

A welfare centre remained open in Waiau, one of the town's hardest hard by Monday quake. Other welfare centres in the district closed after the tsunami warning was lifted. 

Leader Rd and Inland Rd, between Waiau and State Highway 1 on the east coast, remained closed on Tuesday. 

State Highway 7 (Lewis Pass) reopened on Monday, and one lane of State Highway 7A to Hanmer Springs village reopened on Tuesday morning. 

"We understand some people have got through (on Leader Rd) but we understand it's pretty difficult going through there," Dobbie said.

Some local roads were also expected to have been damaged. 

"There's a lot of roads that we haven't got to through there, so we don't know what the condition of them is yet."

The council's priority on Tuesday was getting Inland Rd open between Waiau and Kaikoura and restoring power back to water pumps across the district, Dobbie said.

Generators were being used to keep affected pumps going, but residents were urged to conserve water until power was restored and should boil water as a precautionary measure until further notice. 

"We're asking people to only use what they need."

 - Stuff

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