We land near a bent lamp-post and cracked land with piles of liquefaction.

A trail of lonely, stunned people walk almost aimlessly along Bridge St. They have parked their cars at the side of roads. Some seem to be trying to get home, others are trying to find family and get to prearranged meeting places.

Some people have big backpacks and occasionally you see someone dragging a suitcase.

Quite a few have their dogs with them.

One young man, Jared Raynes, 28, stopped and said, "It's just an unbelievable mess."

Looking at the trail of people, he said, "Everyone's trying to find somewhere where they feel safe ... the whole thing's unreal".

Mr Raynes was on his lunch break at The Warehouse in Northlands when he looked up to see the airconditioning unit swaying from side to side. He dived under the counter.

The whole city was in shock, he said. He had heard there were 70 dead now and the toll would keep growing.

You just felt so helpless, he said. "I'd love to try to go in and help get people out, but there's not much you can do."

He said the road to Sumner was blocked - no one could get in or out. He thought there were collapsed buildings up there and people might be trapped.

Mr Raynes thought Christchurch could come back from the first earthquake, but when you saw the damage from this one, it would take years.

"What's there to do? You can't go to work, none of the supermarkets are open, the petrol stations are chocka."

Kelly Barry, Mr Raynes' partner's sister, arrived, wearing a big backpack, with her dog Ruby. Inside the backpack was her emergency kit, including water and torches, which she had kept ready since the last earthquake. "It's just devastation, it's just everywhere."

She said her house was standing but she couldn't bear to go inside because of all the mess and damage, so she was heading with Mr Raynes to her mum and dad's - their family's designated meeting place.