Belinda Feek is a NZ Herald reporter

Trip of a lifetime turns to misery for British family

An English couple were brought to tears describing their nightmare New Zealand holiday.

Scott and Selene Papworth saved up, working seven days a week for the past 12 months to come on a trip of a lifetime with their children Faith, 5, and Ronnie, 4.

Scott's father and brothers, whom he had never met, live in Christchurch and he was determined to visit them.

The trip started off well; they got to Christchurch, met the family, then holidayed in Hanmer Springs before driving up to Kaikoura.

But then it turned pear-shaped.

The quake struck just after midnight on Monday.

"The house was going sideways," Selene Papworth said. "I was getting shoved 4m either way. It was horrendous. I was getting rag-dolled and I thought 'just get out'."

Scott said most of the house they rented was made of glass, which "was going in and out".

They all ran outside. Scott said he was so frightened he didn't even notice his bare feet getting cut by running on the gravel driveway.

The four of them then sat on the grass outside in the freezing cold, too scared to sleep as they'd been warned of a tsunami.

When the Herald met them, they were all standing holding hands watching all the helicopters fly in and out.

They were furious as they continuously watched a large group of a Chinese tourists getting choppered out of the small coastal town - thanks to the Chinese Government - while calls to the British Embassy were falling flat.

Voice breaking, eyes welling, Scott explained how they were not only trying to flee Kaikoura but New Zealand as the quake had ruined their holiday, scaring not only them but their children.

Topping it all off, they were told they had to leave two of their suitcases behind as it couldn't fit in the chopper.

"We have to leave the kids' stuff behind, just leave it to goodwill. We have literally worked seven days a week for nearly a year for this trip and it's all ruined. It's cost us everything, we've put the mortgage up just to get out of here."

The couple didn't have insurance.

Meanwhile, local businessman Anton Evans, of Hunting and Fishing, was working with crews from South Pacific Helicopters ferrying all the stranded tourists in and out of town all day.

"We've run out of puff, we've run out of fuel, we've run out of light," Evans told the distraught family. "You'll be on the first flight [today]."

He offered to host the family for the night as all of the choppers available had been commissioned by the Chinese.

However, as the day was coming to a close, Dan Stevenson, pilot and owner of South Pacific, arrived with a chopper big enough for them and all their luggage.

When Evans told them they would be flying to a Christchurch, the couple grabbed Evans for a massive family hug.

They were all ushered into the chopper as it refuelled, Ronnie turning quickly, looking back briefly as he walked with Evans to get on board.

Then it was just excited waves as they finally got to escape the shakes.

- NZ Herald

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