A single image showing a huge chasm in the earth illustrates just how devastating the North Canterbury earthquake was to rural parts of New Zealand.

The photograph shows a crack running through a hill on farmland in Conway, near Kaikoura, following the 7.5 magnitude quake at midnight on Sunday.

The farm is not far from where cows were left stranded on a small island of grass when the natural disaster destroyed the fields around them.

More than 30 aftershocks have occurred in the past two hours, taking the count to over 300 since 6am Tuesday.

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Since yesterday's 7.5 earthquake in Kaikoura, there have been over 1200 aftershocks.

Seismologists get to work

GNS seismologists were now tasked with measuring surface cracks in the ground to calculate distances by which different faults had shifted.

What was recorded on the ground would also be compared with data captured from satellites, with more insights to be gathered by GeoNet monitoring equipment set to be deployed around the region.

Earthquake damage to Leader Rd in Hurunui following the 7.5-m earthquake. Photo / Kurt Bayer
Earthquake damage to Leader Rd in Hurunui following the 7.5-m earthquake. Photo / Kurt Bayer
Earthquake damage on State Highway One and the main trunk railway line north of Kaikoura. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Earthquake damage on State Highway One and the main trunk railway line north of Kaikoura. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Earthquake damage on State Highway 1 and the main trunk railway line north of Kaikoura. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Earthquake damage on State Highway 1 and the main trunk railway line north of Kaikoura. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Damage caused by the 7.5 earthquake at CentrePort in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Damage caused by the 7.5 earthquake at CentrePort in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
An SUV lying on it's side on State Highway 1 north of Kaikoura. Photo / Mark Mitchell
An SUV lying on it's side on State Highway 1 north of Kaikoura. Photo / Mark Mitchell

"What a lot of the scientists are trying to find out is how much movement basically was on each of these faults," Balfour said.

"We are trying to get an understanding of how much they moved as it can help us with a better understanding of the impacts that they caused.

"And hopefully this will better inform our models as well, although most of our forecasts are based on statistics."

People, pictured between 1am and 2am, evacuated to the top of Puketapu Rd hill in Taradale, Napier. Photo / Paul Taylor
People, pictured between 1am and 2am, evacuated to the top of Puketapu Rd hill in Taradale, Napier. Photo / Paul Taylor
Earthquake damage on State Highway 1 north of Kaikoura. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Earthquake damage on State Highway 1 north of Kaikoura. Photo / Mark Mitchell
A digger starts clearing one of many slips, this one situated near Rotherham. Photo / Mike Scott
A digger starts clearing one of many slips, this one situated near Rotherham. Photo / Mike Scott
The Waiau swimming pool is totally destroyed folowing the earthquake. Photo / Sam Smith
The Waiau swimming pool is totally destroyed folowing the earthquake. Photo / Sam Smith

GeoNet said it was "extremely likely" that aftershocks would continue to decrease in frequency over the next 30 days - though the probability of another huge quake over magnitude 7 over the period was 22 per cent.

- additional reporting Daily Mail