Ophelia Buckleton is a reporter for the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Kaikoura teen cycles through quake destruction to catch flight

An 18-year-old university student cycled over two hours along Kaikoura's quake-stricken coastline driven by one goal - to catch a flight.

Jackson Lidgard, his parents and sister, were stranded on their farm 25km north of Kaikoura for almost two weeks after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, as massive landslides blocked the roads.

The Lidgard family were waiting for a helicopter pick-up, however Jackson, desperate to catch a flight to Christchurch, hopped on his bike and headed south along the coast.

Despite the road being severely damaged, Jackson was confident he'd make check-in.

Kaikoura resident Jackson Lidgard cycled over two hours after the earthquake to catch a flight. Photo / Supplied
Kaikoura resident Jackson Lidgard cycled over two hours after the earthquake to catch a flight. Photo / Supplied

The teen manoeuvred his bike over rocky landslides, around gigantic boulders and cracks on the road with the sun beating down on him.

At one point he cycled through a pitch-black train tunnel.

"That was not the nicest experience, it was quite freaky. There were big cracks and cables hanging down," Jackson said.

Jackson was forced to carry his bike at several points along the way including through long grass and over rocks on the coastal line.

The teen was not alone. On his two-hour journey, Jackson met two cable technicians who had choppered in to assess and fix fibre cables.

He also took a pit stop at Ohau Point Seal Colony, a popular tourist spot on State Highway 1 where seal pups returned last week after the quake wiped away their habitat.

Jackson's mother Anne-Marie Lidgard said she was very anxious.

"I felt sick for two hours.

"I thought this is a massive adventure and I just had to let him do it. We are very proud of him."

Lidgard said Jackson stayed in touch through text the whole time, while they prayed there was not another earthquake.

Jackson was on his way to Christchurch to judge eVolicity, an electric car building competition.

On Friday, 11 days after the quake, the helicopter finally arrived for the Lidgard family.

Jackson said the family will not be returning to their farm for a while, as there is no access via road.

The Lidgard family are staying in Kaikoura town.

- NZ Herald

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