A recovery effort is underway as hundreds remain stranded in Kaikoura after yesterday's huge 7.5 magnitude earthquake as aftershocks continue to rattle parts of the country.
Main Quake Summary:
3.40pm: The Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, has postponed her planned trip to the Nelson-Tasman region due to the earthquakes. Government House says with emergency efforts in the upper South Island, the timing is not right for a regional visit, and it will now take place sometime in the New Year.
3.30pm: The severe 5.8 aftershock at 2.34pm was felt by around 7000 people around the country, according to GeoNet, with 24 of them classing it as extreme.
3.00pm: Several hundred people gathered in Kaikoura earlier this afternoon to hear from authorities. They say the priority is to evacuate tourists and they hope to be able to lead a convoy out of Kaikoura via the inland route on Saturday if it can be cleared in time. There was a big sigh from the crowd. Authotities said the priority is to restore water supply for everyone.
"Be assured there is a scheduled plan and people are working 24 hours," an official said.
2.54pm : The cluster of aftershocks was felt in Parliament. MPs grabbed their seats as the building was rattled.
2.44pm : There's been a swarm of severe, moderate and light earthquakes ranging from magnitude 3.1 to 5.3 in the Seddon area. Also a moderate 3.5 quake 20km east of Taupo and a light 3.6 quake 25km west of Timaru.
2.34pm: Severe 5.8 quake, 30km northeast of Kaikoura at a depth of 21km, and a 5.7 quake 20km southeast of Seddon and five minutes later a 3.5 tremor 15 km southeast of Seddon.
2.30pm: Twelve patients have been airlifted from Kaikoura to Christchurch with injuries including laceration, broken hip, head injury and a pregnant woman needing additional care, says Health Minister Jonathan Coleman.
In Kaikoura, the Minister says he understands five patients who were on supplemental oxygen at home have been taken into the town's healthcare facility which was able to continue functioning on a generator.
This morning the hospital had seven acute patients admitted with minor injuries as well as 14 long term patients and four spare beds. GPs have also seen 36 patients, 18 for medical conditions and 18 for minor quake related injuries.
The community nurses have teamed up with the local four wheel drive cliub to access vulnerable patients and two of those were transferred to Christchurch where they could move in with relatives.
A clinical psychologist has been flown from Canterbury to help support the community.
Wellington's Westpac Stadium has been cleared of major structural damage, however superficial damage will need repairs meaning this weekend's Phoenix football game against Melbourne Victory will be postponed.
"We are disappointed to have to reschedule a sporting event for the first time in the Stadium’s history, however there is simply not enough time to complete the repairs required," Stadium Chief Executive, Shane Harmon said in a press release.
Burst water pipes, concrete cracking and spalling, broken windows and some liquefaction was just some of the damage to the stadium.
NZTA has released an updated list of the current conditions of South Island highway routes:
The agency has urged people to avoid non-essential travel and to drive with extra caution.
The NZ Defence Force says 5000kg of aid supplies, including food, water and hygeine products, are currently at Christchurch waiting to be delivered to Kaikoura.
Earlier today four Air Force NH90 helicopters were deployed to evacuate tourists and residents.
Christchurch couple Michael and Shirley Carmody who were feared missing in Kaikoura, have been located safe and well.
Civil Defence says its priority in Kaikoura is evacuating tourists to save resources for the community. They say the shortage of water is a major concern. There are plans in place to send remaining people out in vehicles in a convoy on Saturday; aiming to use the inland route.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges says his biggest priority is getting access into Kaikoura. He says the old State Highway 70 should be cleared "within the next several days, I hope sooner". Mr Bridges says both light and heavy vehicles will have access through the road meaning truck will supplies will be able to get through to the town.
But it's not so good news regarding State Highway One which is blocked north of Kaikoura. Mr Bridges says the road is in "an incredibly bad way".
"We are clearly talking about several months before to get that back into a position we have SH1 all the way down the coast".
1 NEWS reporter Ali Pugh in Kaikoura says: "For the most part people have been very positive about the evacuation but there has been a little bit of criticism about how the priority list (of people evacuated by chopper) was managed".
There have been empty helicopters spotted leaving Kaikoura.
Snr Lt Cmdr Geoff Andrew from the Air Force responded saying: "The volunteers are doing the best job they can and they're doing a fantastic job".
"Disorganisation comes with any event of this scale."
A group of evacuees who had been stranded in Kaikoura have landed in Woodend, North Canterbury after being flown out on a NH90 NZ Air Force helicopter.
Labour leader Andrew Little has cancelled his planned visit to India and Pakistan in the wake of the earthquakes. He says now is not the time for politics.
New World Kaikoura has opened. The store is structurally sound. Customers are advised to shop as normal.
John Key has said the Americans have offered the USS Samson's two helicopters to assist with operations in Kaikoura. They will also add a P-3 Orion to ours to assist with surveillance. Malaysia have also offered a helicopter. The US navy ship is in New Zealand for NZ Navy commemorations.
Talking to media today Mr Key says the Government's is looking to get 140 high priority people out of Kaikoura as soon as possible.
Mr Key says the Government is looking to potentially give support to people without insurance affected by the quakes.
The Red Cross is organising a system to prioritise the needs of elderly, pregnant woman and those with children with over airlifting them out.
Nelson Bays Police are investigating the theft of several firearms, some of them antique pieces which were taken from an address when the occupants had evacuated because of the tsunami threat.
They were taken from an address in Riwaka at about 7.30am yesterday morning.
Police are keen to speak to a male Eurpoean in his mid to late thirties wearing a grey hoodie and black pants who was riding a red push bike in the area at the time.
Anyone with any information is encouraged to contact Nelson Bays Police on 03 546 3840.
The Defence Force are organising 16 flights today to airlift tourists out of Kaikoura. Four choppers are leaving in the next hour. Red Cross is currently organising a system to prioritise the needs of elderly, pregnant woman and those with children.
The flights are weather dependent and will continue while it's fine.
Christchurch man Patrick Carmody has not heard from his elderly parents, who are in Kaikoura, since Sunday afternoon.
His father is Michael Carmody, 76, and his mother is Shirley Carmody, 66.
The couple were staying in the Peketa Beach Holiday Park in Kaikoura when the earthquake struck.
Patrick is yet to file a missing persons report and says he "is starting to get a bit stressed".
"There's been no word for 48 hours," he said.
Ten additional police officers from Auckland are due on the ground in Kaikoura this morning after their flight was turned back due to severe winds and turbulence last night.
The additional officers will provide support to the emergency response in the affected areas, as well as assist in general policing duties and community patrols.
Police are still in the process of notifying the families of the two people who died following the earthquakes and will release their names once this process is complete.
Police say there have been no major issues reported to them overnight regarding further damage or casualties caused by aftershocks or weather.
There have also been no law enforcement issues reported in Kaikoura.
Two ships are expected to arrive in Kaikoura tomorrow morning with supplies, Civil Defence Canterbury advises.
Engineering staff are en-route to the landslide dam site on the Clarence River this morning to assess any residual risk remaining after the dam breach yesterday afternoon.
Bad weather is preventing Defence Force helicopters flying in to Kaikoura. They are hoping to fly in at around 11am to midday when the weather is forecast to get better.
Those evacuated from north of Kaikoura will be taken to Ward.
Marlborough Civil Defence says those from Kaikoura will be taken south – at this stage they are set to be dropped off at Woodend School, 20km north of Christchurch.
The Wellington District is experiencing inclement weather this morning which is causing delays for commuters.
There is surface flooding in areas around Lower Hutt and some roads may be inaccessible.
Grays Road and Paekakariki Hill Road in Porirua and State Highway 58 over the Haywards Hill have been closed until further notice.
Kiwirail chief executive Peter Reidy told Breakfast today that a fly-over yesterday revealed "significant damage" to both rail and road infrastructure.
State Highway 7A is officially open, giving access to Hanmer Springs from State Highway 7. The road is open for light vehicles only, and under escort by contractors. NZTA will reassess this route during the day.
State Highway 1, Picton to Blenheim/Seddon is now open but Seddon to Cheviot remains closed. Cheviot to Christchurch is open.
Power has been cut to Kaikoura.
Acting Civil Defence Minister Gerry Browlee says the main priorities for Kaikoura remain water supply, food supply and access.
Speaking on Breakfast today he said clearly the blocked State Highway 1 will be "quite a challenge for quite a long time".
Mr Brownlee says the naval ship HMS Canterbury could be used for evacuated some of the 1200 foreign tourists stranded in the town.
Some good news from Kaikoura - there have been no 111 calls for ambulances today.
In Wellington residents are urged to exercise caution; drive slowly and be aware of the threat of broken and breaking glass.
Speaking on TVNZ's Breakfast Prime Minister John Key said he's concerned about the impact the quake will have on New Zealand's tourism industry.
"These images were all around the world, people worry about earthquakes," Mr Key said.
He said the Hungarian President who is visiting New Zealand was "terrified of the earthquake" when the shake hit Wellington.
More than 20 helicopters will be deployed to Kaikoura to start ferrying people out of the town who need to leave.
Prime Minister John Key said on TVNZ's Breakfast today that 600 people are in welfare centres and 1200 tourists are stranded in the town.
Civil Defence is conducting door-to-door checks in Kaikoura. Last night the Chinese Government chartered a helicopter to transport Chinese nationals out of the town.
Clarifying the earlier transport update: All of the North Island rail services are back up and running. In the South Island the main line remains closed from Picton to Chirstchurch.
Everything south of Christchurch is up and running.
It's slowly getting back to normal in Wellington today with Civil Defence advising it's up to businesses whether they open today as gale force winds are forecast for the capital today.
Overnight strong winds caused some instances of broken glass. Wellington City Council says the corner of Lambton Quay and Brandon Street (Harbour City Centre) and the section of Pipitea Street facing Pipitea House have been cordoned off because of the risk of falling glass. Building inspection and cleaning crews will attend when it is safe to do so after daybreak.
KiwiRail advises all Wellington passenger services are back up and running today following yesterday’s earthquake.
1 NEWS reporter Lisa Davies who has spent the last day in Kaikoura says "everyone is pitching in to make a hell of a time easier".
"Even though people are struggling emotionally they are rallying around".
The latest updates on transport
State Highway 1 from Picton to Blenheim is open, with cautions.
SH7A from SH7 to Hanmer Springs will open at 7am for light vehicles.
SH1 from Ward to Cheviot is closed.
SH7 Lewis Pass has re-opened.
Airports all open.
All ports except Wellington's CentrePort are fully operational.
Damage to Wellington's port is significant and likely to be out of action for a while.
The cruise ship dock is in poor condition, and Strait Shipping's wharf is being inspected.
The main trunk line between Palmerston North and Wellington is closed.
All Wellington commuter services are operational, with reduced capacity on the Wairarapa line.
The line between Picton and Christchurch remains closed.
Lines south of Christchurch are open.
In Kaikoura, critical needs are water, fuel and food, says Civil Defence. Immediate supplies have been provided. Additional needs assessments were carried out yesterday and resources and relief supplies are being procured for transportation to Kaikoura and Hurunui.
Water supplies are not functional in Kaikoura. Water bladders are available to go out in the morning.
A boil water notice is in place in Hurunui. There is enough stored water for two days of drinking water.
5:10am: NZTA have reopened certain parts of SH1 and SH7 in the South Island this morning. SH1 from Blenheim to Picton is now open (with cautions). SH7A and SH7 to Hanmer Springs is open (with cautions and closed between 1900 and 0700). SH1 from Ward to Cheviot is closed. SH7 Lewis Pass has re-opened. NZTA says the rate of progress will be determined by the degree of damage and risks assosciated with them.
4:47am: Wellington Fire and Police communications have told 1 NEWS there have been no earthquake related callouts overnight however fire crews were kept busy in Taranaki with high winds resulting in 30 callouts. The severe weather warning remains in place this morning from MetService.
4:20am: The Wellington City Council says its emergency operations team has been monitoring things through the night and are getting ready for action this morning. The Council also confirmed power had been restored to Churton Park.
3:30am: The staggering number of quakes since yesterday morning's 7.5 magnitude shake near Culverden stands at 780, GeoNet reports. There have been a total of 251 since 7pm last night.
2:50am: A severe weather warning remains in place for Wellington. MetService say gusts of 140 km/h are likely until late this morning. Aftershocks continue to rattle central parts of New Zealand but most sit lower than 4.0 magnitude.
1:30am: The past hour has seen things settle (as much as they can in this turbulent time) with no moderate quakes registered. Police have confirmed an extra 10 officers from Auckland have been sent to Kaikoura to aid in efforts there. "We will continue to deploy staff to the affected areas as required," said Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers.