Shaky Isles

New Zealand is a young, restless country where land often shakes in serious of small earthquakes. The islands lie on the margin of two colliding tectonic plates; the Pacific and Indo-Australian Plates. There are some 14,000 earthquakes a year, but only 150 are usually felt. If earthquakes are not enough there are also several active and some dormant volcanic cones in the North Island. It all makes for interesting living!


Three years ago I was living through horrifying experience of Christchurch earthquakes. First one in September 2010 measured 7.1 Richter Scale and caused terrible damage, but there was no loss of lives. I will never forget the feeling of being jolted out of bed at 4:30am and running outside while earth is moving beneath. Or the eerie silence that fell over the city. On 22 of February 2011 another earthquake hit Christchurch measuring 6.3 but causing far more damage and 181 deaths, as it occurred around lunch time and was centered closer to the city than the first one. The agony of hours it took to find out that my daughter was fine cannot be summoned in words, only in measure of relief once I knew she is okay as her school did not sustain any serious damage. While thankfully neither of us was injured, only terribly frightened, my heart ached for all the devastation around me and especially loss of lives. Christchurch, the second largest city in New Zealand, was once beautiful and known as a ‘garden city.’ The huge rebuilding work is underway now and there is a hope that Christchurch will emerge even more beautiful once rebuild.

Last year I moved from Christchurch to Wellington for my work. And this weekend it was Wellington’s turn to shake!

String of quakes started with a 5.7 magnitude jolt around 9am on Friday, followed by a 5.8 on Sunday morning, 6.5 later in the afternoon and some 120 aftershocks since. I can feel small jolts of them while typing these lines!

While the quakes have not been as high-energy as in Christchurch and therefore have not, thankfully, caused loss of lives or substantial damage, with only four people reported as suffered minor injuries, parts of the Wellington central city have been cordoned off this morning. There is some damage to the port and lot of mess to clean up in some buildings from broken glass and failed masonry. People living in tall apartment buildings feared worse and thousands huddled under tables and door frames.

We are instructed to avoid central city if possible today and to expect ‘a level of severe inconvenience for some time yet.’

However, GNS scientists said Wellingtoninas have been very fortunate indeed as the quakes were not cantered closer to the city; if they had been under the city they would have caused equal or similar damage to what happened in Christchurch.

While the chances of another big quake are reportedly diminishing, that is far from certain. And that uncertainty is what makes earthquakes truly terrifying. Not knowing whether it will happen again within the next ten minutes, or ten years … only knowing that it will happen.

With that in mind wishing the best of luck to all my fellow quake-veterans from the Shaky Isles



Author: Daniela

Reader, Writer, Mother, Freethinker, Habitual Day Dreamer, Blogger - Sharing Ideas, Poetry, Prose, and Conversations on the Lantern Post!

35 thoughts on “Shaky Isles”

  1. Thos whole thing with earthquakes was very unreal to me when I first moved to California. Now I’ve experienced several. It’s indeed a strange feeling when the ground underneaths you moves. Great post!


    1. Hi,

      It is a very strange and unsettling feeling indeed. I walked through an almost empty city center earlier today and it made me feel uneasy.

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting,



  2. Interesting Daniela that in 1942 there was a couple of 7 magnitude quakes near Masterton and given that the Australian plate is drifting north by about 7 or 8 cm per year, these shakes will always continue. I’m still in Christchurch and there are two main rules; be prepared with some emergency stuff and don’t panic. We stayed in bed for the 7.1 and most NZ homes will survive an 8 or more. Best wishes..


    1. Hi,

      So nice to hear from you and to hear from Christchurch too -:)! I did not know about 1942 quakes; but yes the shakes will continue.

      Those two rules are very sensible and I do observe them too … Christchurch has provided me with necessary training in this regard -:)!

      Many thanks for reading and commenting,

      Take Care,


    1. Oh San Francisco is a city of such a beauty and character … I would not mind ‘enjoyably denial’ at all -:)!

      Thank you so much for the comment and especially for the best wishes!

      Kind Regards,


  3. We were only talking about the NZ quakes the other day. I’m relieved you are ok. It’s unsettling to think these will continue, and I fear may become worse – worldwide.
    Thanks for letting us know. We were hoping to get to NZ later this year…. perhaps, it is difficult to know where ‘safe’ is any longer.
    Take care Daniela.


    1. Dear Susan,

      Thank you so much for reading and for such wonderfully warm comment -:)!

      Oh please do not let shakes put you off coming to NZ, there is much to see and experience here. Shakes come and go, but overall it is safe!

      All the Best,


  4. I thought if you when I heard about the 6.9 magnitude quake on the news. I’m so glad to know everyone is okay. It was 10 kilometres (6 miles) underground and if the quake had been closer to the surface it would have had much worse impacts.


    1. Thank you very much -:)!

      You are indeed right, if it was any closer to the surface it would have been much worse indeed … we were lucky this time!

      Kind Regards,


  5. Hi Daniela, How frightening earthquakes are. We do get them here in CA. My very first Sunday (3rd day) in California my husband and I awoke to what sounded like a train going by. There were no tracks nearby, and it shook the house as it went by. It was 5:30 and the epicenter was probably 40 miles away, so it must not have been too strong. After we woke up thoroughly, we looked at each other, and agreed it had to be our first earthquake.


    1. Dear Marsha,

      I so love your description of the earthquake! It is exactly so; the distant rumbling sounds like a train going by, or bombing. I remember my first earthquake experience here in NZ and the first thing I though of was – this is NZ so it cannot be shelling, must be an earthquake! After that I learned more about the nature of quakes here and come to terms with them … most of the time they are hardly noticeable.

      Many thanks for visiting the Lantern -:)!



      1. We actually rarely have them. The only other one I remember here in this area of Central California was during the big San Francisco quake many years ago. I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth, and happened to look down and see the water moving in the toilet. I wondered to myself if it might be a quake, and turned on the news. Sure enough, freeways had just tumbled in SF about a 4 hour drive north of us.


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