Tauranga couple Alla and Mark Kirkham are still reeling from experiencing the 7.8 Kaikoura quake and say they are hugely relieved to have finally made it to safety.

"I really thought I was going to die. I remember thinking this is the end, this is the big one, it's over, and we're not going to make it," Mrs Kirkham said.

Most of the hundreds of aftershocks were not small shakes but short, sharp jolts and were "absolutely terrifying", she said.

The Kirkhams had been marooned with their caravan at a little waterfront camping ground at Boat Harbour about 10-15 minutes from Kaikoura since the quake struck.


After attending the Christchurch A&P Show, the couple, who own an automated chicken feeder-producing company called Grandpa's Feeders, decided to stop off at Kaikoura to dive, fish and relax.

Mrs Kirkham said a neighbouring farm owner, who had taken a helicopter up for a closer look of the damage, told them there was massive crack in the side of the mountain.

"Our fear, while sitting on the side of this mountain with the earth constantly moving, was if there was another big jolt, more rocks would come down and take us out," she said.

"When we first checked out the road, we didn't think we could take our caravan out. But once a big grader filled in the worst of the massive big slumps and hollows, and laid down gravel-lined ramps in the worst parts, we managed to do so."

Mrs Kirkham said after leaving Kaikoura, the couple made their way to Cheviot before heading to Temuka on Thursday.

Their trip was "very slow and tiring" and "hairy" at times, but it improved the closer they got to Cheviot.

After five days of constant stress, broken sleep and rattled nerves, the couple were relieved to be staying in sunny, peaceful Temuka.

"After experiencing something like this it keeps replaying in my mind and it's hard to stop thinking about it, " Mrs Kirkham said.

Ironically, the Kirkhams' only visitor once the rest of the campers left Boat Harbour, apart from the manager, was a fisheries officer to check they had not flouted their paua quota.

The Kirkhams planned to head to Invercargill next week for a friend's 50th celebration and were expected to be back in Tauranga in December.

"I really hope the rest of our trip is uneventful," Mrs Kirkham said.

Tarpaulin Makers (BOP) owner Beni Hafoka, who has spearheaded a food and water collection for the people of Kaikoura, said he was rapt by the response.

"Today we have collected about two tonnes of non-perishable food and other items donated by five local schools and a local was a great response, and we have also had a wonderful response from a number of local businesses," he said.

That included the TR Group who had provided a truck to collect the donated non-perishable food and other items from schools and businesses.

TR Group would take the 20 large pellets of donated goods down to Christchurch, hopefully on Sunday.

Mr Hafoka said people could still drop donated items off at the old weigh station opposite Links Ave Reserve between 8am and noon tomorrow, or at his office on Portside Drive.

The Kaikoura Quake:

- The 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck on Monday.

- At least one person was killed, and countless homes were destroyed and buildings extensively damaged.

- Multiple landslides blocked streams or river valleys.

- Kaikoura had been completely shut off, with many visitors flown out of the area by helicopter.