Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Kaikoura Earthquake topples surfer's property dream

After years of working four jobs to make ends meet, Dave Lyons had hoped to finally be able to focus on his family and his surfing career. Photo / Alan Gibson
After years of working four jobs to make ends meet, Dave Lyons had hoped to finally be able to focus on his family and his surfing career. Photo / Alan Gibson

A dream - almost 30 years in the making that was just weeks away from becoming a reality - is once again out of reach after the Kaikoura Earthquake left a local surfer and his family out of pocket.

Dave and Cezanne Lyons had been about to sign off on a loan to develop their beachfront property the week the earthquake hit.

Within 60 seconds, the 7.8 magnitude quake that shook the small tourist town in the early hours of November 14 put a damper on Dave Lyons' dreams of running a surf shop and school out of his new seaside home.

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The quake has damaged thousands of homes and businesses in the Kaikoura and Hurunui Districts and put an end to locals' hopes of a bumper tourist season.

"We were set, the whole town was set to have a really, really good season... now everyone is sitting with stock in their shops, even if they can open they can't sell to anyone, as no-one can come in," he said.

A large portion of the Lyons' income came from tourism before the quake, but with no guarantees visitors will be back in town anytime soon, the 44-year-old's plans to begin building his dream home on the beach at Mangamaunu is now on hold.

The surfing instructor, who lives with his jeweller wife, Cezanne Lyons, 39, and their three children, Reuben, 12, Blaise, 10 and Sonny David, 7, said it had been a dream of his since he was 18.

"I knew exactly what house I wanted to build; there's a back-drop of the mountains, which are still there obviously, but with a slight change in the look because of all the slips and slides.

"But it's still gorgeous with a beautiful native bush and it's got 360 degrees of water front."

As emergency response teams begin to wrap up operations in the quake-affected regions next week, locals are beginning to look to the future.

A number of businesses are up and running and schools in Kaikoura have reopened, but the recovery and rebuild phase is expected to take some time.

So far almost 100 homes in the Kaikoura and Hurunui Districts have been red-stickered, making them no-go zones, and more than 300 have been yellow-stickered.

A number of businesses in Kaikoura are also labelled red, and at least 50 have been marked with a yellow sticker.

As for Lyons' business Boardsilly Surf and Sup Adventures, his property hasn't been red-stickered but it will be at least two years before building can get under way.

Nevertheless he isn't one to dwell on the negative.

"It's not what I have that makes me who I am, I am just happy I have got my wife and kids and that we are all okay," Lyons said.

"We have just got to focus on our businesses and what we can do, to scrape where we can scrape. We will do what we have got to do and have fun on the way."

After years of working four jobs to make ends meet and pay off the mortgage on their undeveloped beachfront property, Lyons had hoped to finally be able to focus on his family and his surfing career.

The couple had been about to sign off on a loan the week the earthquake hit. While Lyons was disappointed, he said it might have been a blessing in disguise.

"We'd be stressed out if we got the loan," he said. "Imagine if we had it the week before and all of a sudden we can't service it, can't pay the builders."

Lyons said the family was scraping by with just enough to cover living costs and food but he wasn't ready to let go of his dream completely.

"Yeah it's going to happen, I'm excited, but I wish it could come sooner."

- NZ Herald

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