Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Ground Zero: Picture-perfect postcard of rural NZ blown apart by Monday's mammoth quake

Deep up the valley, a cool breeze carries birdsong. Bees hum between spring blossom and endless beech forest.

With the rolling green hills, freshly snow-dusted mountains beyond, and occasional lamb bleat, Sherwood Rd could be perfect postcard of rural New Zealand.

But venture up a gravel driveway or bounce down a muddy farm-track and a different version of reality soon emerges.

Behind towering pines, a century-old mansion crouches half-collapsed.

Farmhouses have shed their bricks, exposing cladding and interior walls. Crumpled chimneys have blown out windows. Glass shards shimmer in the bright sun.

This is Ground Zero. It just so happens that Monday's mammoth magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck deep in the North Canterbury countryside and not beneath a major metropolis.

Kara Lynn stands on her deck, walkie-talkie in hand, and shakes her head. She reckons a new fault line runs about 40-metres from her back door - in a north-west to south-east direction.

The ferocity of the ground-shaking has sheared a large lump of land 20m eastwards and created a deep gully. The whole landscape has moved.

"You could hear the sound. It was a roar ... like the earth was opening up," the mother-of-three said.

Lynn, an Amberley refugee from the deadly 2011 quake, knew the names of the two existing fault lines that run through her remote 2500-acre property north of Waiau, which is only accessed by fording a flood-prone river.

One is the Lottery River Fault and the other, the Hope Fault which she says runs from Hanmer Springs to Seddon.

"I'm yet to name this one," she says pointing down into a cavernous gorge which opened up on Monday, swallowing large beech trees. Two old cars left rusting in a paddock even took a slide down a new cliffside.

Still, she thinks they've been lucky. They lost a 30-litre water tank, and it's put them weeks behind their farm work, but their house appears unscathed. They're off grid and still have electricity.

They're better off than many others.

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Back across the river, farmer Alex Boissard has lost two houses, "completely destroyed".
But the farm goes on. Calves still need castrating, the sheep still need tailing.

To the rescue is a network of Federated Farmers members.

Cheviot farmers Daniel Maxwell and Scott McFadden "dodged a bullet" in the quakes, they said.

They arrived at Boissard's property today to help castrate the calves.

Other young farmers from Invercargill are next door helping out, while an army of others are across the Waiau region helping to get the crucial jobs done so the landowners and farmers can deal with insurers and EQC.

"The show must go on," Maxwell says.

"A huge amount of experienced people are putting their names forward to help stock handling. We just want to help however we can."

Fellow farm helper Scott McFadden added: "I know that the emphasis is on Kaikoura but these guys down the end of a road like this should not be forgotten about."

It's certainly appreciated help.

Boissard's property has damaged fences, water pipes, a woolshed and grain silo.

"I can't thank them enough," he said.

"Waiau has taken a severe battering but what's happening today is a prime example to show that we're going to be okay."

- NZ Herald

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