Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Hanmer Springs deserted following earthquake

The alpine tourist hotspot of Hanmer Springs, usually a thriving, buzzing place, resembles a ghost town today after being cut-off for more than 24 hours.

Yesterday morning's giant quake was centred near the popular North Canterbury town.

It's accessed only by the old wooden Waiau Ferry Bridge, which was closed after the shaking out of caution. Slips and rockfall had also come down on the road.

The bridge was cleared to let out some tourists and others for a few hours yesterday afternoon. Today it's opened up traffic to light vehicles under 10-tonne.

The town is also deserted. The popular thermal hot pools is closed. It suffered some minor damage and officials hope it'll open around midday.

There's only a few shops and cafes open.

Australian tourists, Nicholas Matthews, sons Noah, 8, and Finn, 12, and wife Bronwen rode out their first ever quakes in Hanmer Springs. Photo / Kurt Bayer
Australian tourists, Nicholas Matthews, sons Noah, 8, and Finn, 12, and wife Bronwen rode out their first ever quakes in Hanmer Springs. Photo / Kurt Bayer

The Heritage Hotel cleared guests from its main building to chalets and is being inspected later today.

Some buildings and houses have suffered minor damage.

Australian tourists, Nicholas Matthews, sons Noah, 8, and Finn, 12, and wife Bronwen rode out their first ever quakes in Hanmer Springs.

They're midway through a six-week campervan tour of New Zealand.

On Sunday night, they had "treated" themselves to the luxury of a hotel, with TV and hot showers. But just after midnight, the quake hit.

"It was pretty full on... frightening," Nicholas said.

They evacuated into the carpark.

Quake-hardened Christchurch visitors told them it had been a big one.

There was an "exodus" of tourists yesterday, Nicholas said.

They decided to stay until they got more clarity around the scale of the disaster.

Today they're going mountain biking.

"After all, that's what we came here for," Nicholas said.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 28 May 2017 04:58:04 Processing Time: 747ms