One Year Done: Surveying the damage

Don McIntosh stands where his dream house once stood before it was destroyed by the 14 November 2016 quake. - Photo: RNZ / Maja Burry

A year on from the Kaikōura quake that changed their lives, residents of Hurunui District are among those revisiting the traumatic experience and examining how tough it has made life for them since.

Striking just two minutes after midnight on 14 November, the 7.8-magnitude quake was centred only kilometres away from Waiau, at a depth of 15km.

It claimed the lives of two people - Louis Edgar of Kaikōura and Jo-Anne Mackinnon of Mt Lyford. It also caused billions of dollars of damage - with the Kaikōura and Hurunui districts the worst affected.

When the quake struck, Don McIntosh's log home located just off the Inland Road between Kaikōura and Waiau was damaged beyond repair.

The home was shunted from its foundations, windows shattered, Mr McIntosh's bed split in half and all his belongings were propelled around the house.

In the Hurunui District 74 buildings, including Mr McIntosh's, were red stickered along with a further 15 in Marlborough and 35 in the Kaikōura District.

Mr McIntosh said the earthquake was a traumatic experience for him - and he felt lucky to have survived.

"I think the worst part for me personally was the fact that I lost my house, it was my dream home, and it was only six years old ... so to see it gone was pretty tough," he said.

Kaikōura shop owner Penny Betts has lived in the seaside town most of her life and said the earthquake was horrifying and had taken an emotional toll on her.

"I just went to jump into bed and it [the quake] hit ... and I just straight away knew that 'this is it....this is what they have been warning us about'," she said.

"There was no denying it."

Ms Betts said immediately after the quake, her family left their home and spent the night sleeping in a paddock further inland because they were worried about the risk of a tsunami.

"Freezing cold, we didn't bring anything with us we didn't have our emergency kit ... it was just 'get in the car and go'," she said.

The quake forced hundreds of people to be evacuated from Kaikōura by helicopter and boat, after slips blocked all road access into the town.

One million tonnes of rubble, in 85 different landslides, came down onto State Highway 1 and the railway network between Picton and Christchurch - forcing its closure.

Of those slips, 10 major ones on the road north of Kaikōura have presented the biggest challenges - with 1300 people working to have the road re-opened in a month's time.

The quake also thrust up parts of the Kaikōura coastline by up to 6m, exposing thousands of pāua and other sealife to dehydration.

Behind the gate of a North Canterbury sheep and beef farm along Leader Road, the landscape has also changed forever.

On Rebekah and David Kelly's 2000ha property, a huge hillside made up of about 1 million tonnes of dirt slipped into the river, forming a new 1km-long lake that is up to 20m deep in places.

Ms Kelly said the family had found positives in enjoying the new water feature, but with so much land damage to their property the year had been a difficult one.

"There have been lots of sleepless nights, and I'm not a sleepless person," she said.

"That's not [from] worrying about earthquakes, that's just trying to process all of the stuff that needs to be done and the conversations that need to be had. So it's been a real trial."

On Sunday, the Hurunui District held a community event in Waiau to mark the anniversary. A similar community barbecue will be held in Kaikōura this afternoon.

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