An Australian woman has gone against the grain of evacuations and flown into Kaikoura to care for her elderly parents after the earthquake.
Lyn Collins, 57, flew by helicopter into the region on Saturday to care for her wheelchair-bound mum Hinga Fell, 80, who only has one leg, and to support her dad Terry Fell, 83.
"I'm trying to keep my mum and dad at home so they're not at the hospital.
"Mum and Dad didn't know I was coming. I just walked in with my backpack on."
Hinga Fell was home in in her wheelchair picking up smashed china when Collins, who lives in Queensland's Mt Isa, arrived.
"They have a beautiful jug they got given for their wedding in 1958. It had smashed. She was really sad.
"I just walked in and said 'jeez, I hope the cup of tea's on'. She was just overwhelmed.
It was nice to be here."
Collins said her parents were like the romance from The Notebook movie. The couple fell in love while working in the military in 1956 and "the rest is history". Terry has been Hinga's full-time carer since she started suffering medical problems.
"They got married in a military camp almost 60 years ago. Mum relies on him for everything."
When the earthquake walloped the east coast on November 14 Terry rushed to Hinga's side. She couldn't get out of her hospital bed in their shaking home so he lay with her until daylight.
"Her bed went flying to the other side of the room. She just stayed there until Dad was able to get to her."
The whole family have a military background: Collins, Terry, Hinga and Collins' brother have all completed service.
As soon as Collins heard about the earthquake she tried to get back home.
There was "no question" Collins would swoop in to help her terrified parents. Even though she has three brothers, she was the one best placed to drop everything and come in. The brothers will join the family for Christmas.
"Plus I'm the girl, they can't do the domestic stuff."
Collins found it difficult to get into the disaster zone. She put her plight on Facebook and Ngai Tahu gave her a seat on a helicopter.
Collins said her parents have no wish to evacuate.
"I can't get them to leave if I tried.
"They're happy, they don't want to go anywhere. This is their home."