All Black assistant coach Steve Hansen and his family face an uncertain future in their Tai Tapu home, renovated only two months ago.

Hansen delayed his departure to Australia with the All Blacks to assess the quake damage that has left the house unliveable.

It is without power and water, and engineers must assess the foundations to see if it's salvageable after cracks opened up in the walls and floors.

A slate wall covering has pulled away from the living room wall and a fountain once against a deck has dropped over half a metre.

His father Des Hansen, 77, who lives with the family, said everyone was hoping the house could be saved.

"You have to look beneath the surface because that's where the problems could be ... You've got to take the advice from the professionals."

It was only then a decision would be made to rebuild or condemn. The family moved in three years ago but finished renovating it only recently.

Des Hansen showed the Herald big cracks in the foundations. "Just think of the power to move something that big."

He said his son was devastated by the damage, a feeling many other Canterbury families were experiencing. "Everyone's in the same boat."

The All Blacks travelled to Australia on Sunday to prepare for their match against the Wallabies this weekend, but Steve Hansen left yesterday after getting the cleanup started.

His garage was also extensively damaged, big cracks opened on the driveway, and the sides of a glasshouse were blown out.

Des Hansen said the quake was "the most terrifying thing I've experienced. I've never seen anything like it."

Steve Hansen wasn't the only All Black squad member affected.

Coach Graham Henry, originally from Christchurch, first made a distress call to his 94-year-old mother, who lives in an aged-care facility in the city. She was unharmed.

A quick ring-around established that the squad's eight Canterbury players as well as Hansen and fellow assistant coach Wayne Smith also escaped injury, although most reported damage to their properties.

"It was a really frightening experience" Henry said in Sydney, "and the All Blacks would like to pass a message of support to the people of Canterbury. Our thoughts are with them."

Kieran Read, the All Blacks No 8, recounted his ordeal as he cowered under a doorway with his heavily pregnant wife, Bridget.

"It was a pretty freaky, pretty terrifying experience," he said.

Read's wife is a geography major and had quickly realised what was happening. Six months pregnant with the couple's first child, she led the way to safety.

"She moved like a cat, she was pretty quick. I was just following her to the doorway," Read said.

After riding out the initial waves and the first aftershock, the Reads ventured outside in darkness to confirm their home was not in danger.

Then, when the sun rose, they realised the extent of the devastation in neighbouring areas.

Read agreed it was a miracle no one had been killed.

"When you look at the damage, I guess we're fortunate it happened in a quiet period."

While Steve Hansen's house was badly damaged, Read said his only problem was a stain from a bottle of red wine on the lounge carpet.

Debutant-in-waiting Colin Slade lost a chimney off his roof.

Read said none of the players had considered pulling out of the Sydney test, although they would carefully monitor the situation back home.

"I don't think it will be a distraction," he said.

"You don't think it's going to happen twice. It's also been nice to be able to talk about it with the guys who experienced it."

- Additional reporting by NZPA