Saturday, March 7, 2009

Shaking All Over

We are leaving today's walk until this afternoon. It looked a bit uncomfortable this morning, heavy showers, and the forecast was for it to clear up, which it has done. Very humid, though.

Just heard from John Brady that another cyclone is sweeping down on Brisbane. No doubt the tail end of it will arrive here a few days later and disrupt the plans of lots of people. That has happened several times while we have been here, with the damage mainly in North Island.

When we leave Hokitaka tomorrow we head north up the West Coast, which is truly spectacular in fine weather. We turn east and inland before we reach Greymouth, which is just as well. The only time we have ever stayed in that town, a tornado destroyed the town centre the following day. We really felt guilty, because on the same trip, we passed through the Misissippi area on the way home and also stayed with our friends in Evansville. Guess what? Not much later Hurricane Katrina happened and also a tornado tore the heart out of a trailer park in Evansville, killing many people. We were really studying the news about everywhere we had been for some time after that, but came to the conclusion that it was all a coincidence.

On our way to Hanmer Springs, we also drive through Reefton, yet another goldrush place (there is a place on a corner plot where bearded prospects will make you a mug of incredibly strong tea and show you how to pan for gold) and Murchison, one of several places which has been flattened by an earthquake during the brief years of European settlement here. There are several earthquakes every day in NZ, most of them undetectable by humans. But NZ is on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" and is always hovering on the brink of another "big one". So why have they built the capital., Wellington, on several fault lines?

We experienced a very strong earthquake on our first visit here in 1995. We had just crossed from South Island to North Island on the ferry and driven 80-90 kms north. The next morning our camper was thrown about very violently. The earthquake was deep below the sound between the two islands and was felt over a very large area. Fortunately this time there was no very serious damage and nobody was killed.

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