Military personnel assisting in the wake of last week's monster earthquake have completed their buzziest mission yet, rescuing a Kaikoura man's 30,000 bees.
The New Zealand Defence Force have been helping to evacuate people and protect their possessions in the aftermath of last week's magnitude 7.8 quake.
About 900 Kaikoura residents have been rescued, and now 30,000 insects can be added to that list.
"Many people took what they could fit into a suitcase or two; the things closest to their hearts. One of the evacuees just could not leave his bees behind," said Commander Simon Rooke of HMNZS Canterbury.
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"The ship does a meticulous count of everything we bring on board as a matter of course. Last Saturday, we evacuated 192 people together with 2.3 tonnes of baggage, one cat, 14 dogs and about 30,000 bees. They were one thing we didn't count exactly.
"I smiled when I read the cargo manifest just before we sailed. It is the type of entry you'd probably see if they did an inventory of what went into Noah's Ark."
Rooke said the bees were kept in a small, wooden crate, not in a conventional beehive.
HMNZS Canterbury and NH90 helicopters from the Royal New Zealand Airforce have rescued about 900 people. The NZDF has delivered about 250 tonnes of supplies, mobilised about 560 personnel, 11 aircraft and four vessels.