Five years ago, Emily Melvin survived Christchurch's deadly earthquake. Overnight, she was in Fiji as Cyclone Winston smashed through the island chain.

Ms Melvin is a native of Seaford, on New York's Long Island, and began to study at Canterbury University as part of a five-week university exchange programme a day before the February 22, 2011 quake.

READ MORE: One dead as massive tropical cyclone hits Fiji

She travelled to Fiji a few days ago, for a short holiday, and was staying at Smugglers Cove Resort in Nadi, her mother Lorraine Melvin told the Herald this morning.


Her daughter had not been heard from yesterday afternoon -- phones aren't working at the resort -- and her family were desperate to know she was okay, Mrs Melvin said.

"It's just crazy, this kid ... I hope she was in the hotel, she was in the hostel part but I can only hope the management had everyone move to the main buildings."

Her daughter was an avid traveller, having backpacked through Europe alone and travelled in Australia before flying to Fiji. She completed her university exchange at Victoria University after the quake, but had been traumatised by the experience.

"She had been so excited to go to Canterbury and she had one day of classes when it happened."

Although her Canterbury University study was cut short, her daughter put what she'd learned to good use. On her return to the United States she did a university paper on how natural disasters affected students.

Her latest adventure was tacked on to the end of the 25-year-old's month-long holiday in Australia, but it had not been without worry, Mrs Melvin said.

"She was concerned that it was the rainy season, but she felt she was so close to Fiji she just couldn't pass it up."