Kaikoura discovers silver lining to November 14 earthquake

Kaikoura kids line up for surf lessons on the new surf break at Gooch's Beach.
SUPPLIED

Kaikoura kids line up for surf lessons on the new surf break at Gooch's Beach.

The Kaikoura District Council is hoping it has saved millions in erosion control because of the November 14 earthquake.

The magnitude-7.8 quake shunted much of Kaikoura's coastline upwards, which Kaikoura Mayor Winston Gray says has given the disaster a silver lining, including a new surf spot for locals.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) has been investigating coastal erosion since before the earthquake, and is collecting data on whether the land shift has helped solve the problem.

An aerial image of Kaikoura after the earthquake.
ROSS GIBLIN/FAIRFAX NZ

An aerial image of Kaikoura after the earthquake.

An ECan spokeswoman said the regional council hoped to analyse the data in a few months' time.

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Gray said erosion, potentially putting seafront property and infrastructure at risk, was the "elephant in the room" for the council.

The 7.8 Earthquake on November 14 caused extensive damage to the area and shunted much of the coastline upwards.
GEORGE HEARD/FAIRFAX NZ

The 7.8 Earthquake on November 14 caused extensive damage to the area and shunted much of the coastline upwards.

"In our long term plan we were looking at starting to do something probably five, 10 years out," he said.

"[The earthquake has] certainly mitigated that for many many years, we would think."

Gray said the issue mainly affected the coast directly in front of the township, and residents had been raising concerns with the council about high sea levels before the earthquake.

Kaikoura Mayor Winston Gray says the earthquake created a "fantastic" surf beach.
JAMIE SMALL/FAIRFAX NZ

Kaikoura Mayor Winston Gray says the earthquake created a "fantastic" surf beach.

"It was becoming more regular and it was starting to erode the beach, and it was starting to undermine our infrastructure," he said.

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"They were really worried."

The council carried out some temporary erosion control work last year, moving about 50,000 cubic metres of stone and heavy sand from the south side of town to Gooch's Beach in front of the Esplanade, where the fine sand was easily washed away.

Gooch's Beach has been more popular with surfers since the November 14 earthquake changed the coastline, says Mayor ...
PIPPA BROWN/FAIRFAX NZ

Gooch's Beach has been more popular with surfers since the November 14 earthquake changed the coastline, says Mayor Winston Gray.

"It would be such a cost to physically put barriers in there – immense cost for this council, in the millions of dollars," Gray said.

"We can spend the money we were going to spend on reinforcement on some beautification – and we're certainly going to do that in the future."

He said the council would likely remove its damaged beachfront pool and landscape the beach head.

The beach in front of the township, previously only surfable a few times a year in a strong northerly, had become a surfing spot since the earthquake, he said.

"It's created a fantastic surf beach. In the weekend I got a photo of probably 30 people surfing in an area of a 400-metre, 500m strip."

 - Stuff

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