It was just supposed to be a short 24 hour business trip to Christchurch... but the 7.1 quake that devastated parts of the city changed all that.

As I sit at Christchurch airport waiting to see if my flight will still go ahead today, I've finally had a chance to reflect on the scariest earthquake of my life.

I was staying on the 7th floor of the Novotel right in Cathedral Square. I got into bed around 11pm with my curtains wide open so I could enjoy the view before I drifted off to sleep.

At 4:35am: BANG - the first part of the quake hit. I was only dozing so woke up quickly.

I grew up in Bay of Plenty and Waikato - two areas prone to earthquakes. I'm used to them and I quite enjoy them. My initial thought was "oh this is a small earthquake," expecting it to stop any second.

It continued to grow in strength. Each time I thought surely it can't get any worse, it got worse.

The windows flexed in my room and on the buildings surrounding Cathedral Square. In the distance a brilliant blue flash lit up the night sky at least 3 or 4 times. I'm assuming it was a power transformer exploding. Then the power went out.

But the quake continued, still building in strength.

The earthquake had a violent sideways rocking. To be honest I was so stunned that the earthquake was actually happening I didn't move from my bed. I watched in complete awe as the building - and those around me - rocked and rocked.

The bells in the Cathedral loudly crashed and rang out in a dyslexic manner. They continued for several minutes after the quake had finished.

In total I'd say it lasted about a minute, but the aftershocks were fairly strong and immediately followed. In fact I counted about seven in the next hour.

I was phoned by Newstalk ZB and then by CTV (a Canadian TV channel in Toronto). They asked if there was damage and I said "I can't see any from my hotel room, but New Zealand copes well with quakes - we build our cities to withstand them".

I finally had to evacuate the building. As I walked into the stairwell there was a huge crack running along the wall and pieces of concrete sitting on the steps. That was a huge shock to me. This brand new building had cracked.

When I walked out on to the streets I suddenly realised that actually damage was significant all around me.

Several buildings had collapsed on themselves.

Roofs were missing. Walls had disappeared. Power poles were on their sides. Glass and bricks covered the streets.

See my photos here.

I feel like the luckiest person alive right now, despite my flight being cancelled and the uncertainty of where I'll be sleeping tonight.

An incredible day. One I will never ever forget.

I was living in Te Puke during the massive Edgecumbe quake in the late 80s. This earthquake blows that one out of the water.