Two people are feared to have been killed by boulders dislodged by aftershocks as they were walking over the Port Hills track from Christchurch to their Lyttelton homes.
Two people were also reported to have died in Lyttelton from heart attacks, and in Sumner, police cordoned off the Wakefield Ave scene where a builder was killed by rockfall.
Three cyclists caught on Evans Pass in Lyttelton during the earthquake dodged boulders the size of buses as they ran for their lives, and they fear a jogger may have been killed.
Dave Curtis, along with Andre Chappell and another friend, were "terrified" as rocks ranging from the size of ovens to buses crashed down around them.
They said they suspected a jogger who had been running close by may have been killed by falling boulders.
Mr Curtis said the group heard "a sound like a sonic boom reverberating off the crater above" before they were blown three metres towards the edge of the cliff.
"It was terrifying. They were the size of cars and buses and we could see them coming. Andre dove over the wire fence and I dodged them on the road."
Former television reporter and funeral celebrant John Sellwood said he was on the track trying to get home to Lyttelton on Tuesday afternoon when stones as big as cars rolled down the hills.
Mr Sellwood said he made his way home to find his 100-year-old cottage wrecked. As they could not stay there he and his wife, Helen, stayed on a friend's yacht moored in Lyttelton.
Looking around the historic port settlement he said there was a lot of damage, particularly on London St and Norwich Quay – where most of the town's old commercial buildings and hotels were destroyed or beyond repair.
The historic Time Ball building was wrecked, the oil wharf was sagging and buildings at Rapaki Marae had been crushed by boulders.
Many of the stone walls built by convict labour in the 1800s had collapsed.
Author Joe Bennett said the place was a ghost town. There was no power, no water and people were stunned, he said. His home above the Lyttelton tunnel portal was "turned upside down but habitable". He said he had a wood-fired barbecue outside to cook on.
"Hey, I'm OK and I'm not suffering but there's bottles and books everywhere and you learn not to put flour, soy sauce, jam and gin on the same shelf. Everything's just higgledy piggledy."
His dog Blue fled in panic to a friend's place across town.
After the quake he checked neighbours. He found a couple in their 80s sitting in the rubble smiling saying, "This is it, but we're still here."
Soldiers were on street corners stopping people going into London St because of the damage and many of the buildings were still cordoned off.
"It's very grim."
- The Dominion Post