North Canterbury farmers are rallying together by sharing cow sheds and lending generators as they try to carry out the daily business of running their farms despite some suffering extensive damage from this morning's quake.

Meanwhile Fonterra has warned about 30 farms in Kaikoura would not have milk collected today due to road access and other farms around New Zealand may have late pick ups.

North Canterbury Federated Farmers president Lynda Murchison said communities north of Culverden such as Waiau, Parnassus, Kaikoura and Hamner had been harder hit with reports of some farm homes being destroyed and other buildings and homesteads losing walls. Many farms were still without water and power and could not be accessed by vehicle due to damage to the local roads and SH1.

"We've had reports of some quite severe damage to buildings. There are some farm homes which are completely destroyed. Other buildings have lost walls and things like that. Farm buildings and homesteads. The Waiau River bridge has come away from the bank."


The houses which had suffered the worst damage were in the triangle between Culverden, Parnassus and Hanmer. While Murchison was also aware of houses in Cheviot and Conway Flat which were also severely damaged.

"In other areas there has been minor damage, people may have lost a chimney or had a crack but in those particular areas where we have had reports of whole houses falling down and whole walls falling down. Houses that are beyond repair."

Culverden dairy farmer Justin Slattery said about half of Culverden, in north Canterbury had lost power and he was still waiting for it to come back on at his farm.

Slattery had been using his neighbour's milking shed and was working around him, meaning his 520 cows got milked almost five hours late this morning. He would be returning at 6pm if power had not returned to his property.

"It's got to be done. Especially at this time of year the cows are in peak production. So you just have to keep milking them.

Slattery did not have a generator so was also borrowing a paddock with a trough so he could get water to his stock.

"Everyone is pitching in. Farmers are being bloody generous actually and pitching in, sharing generators and helping out where is needed.

"It's a bit scary. I actually thought there would be more damage to be honest. The cow shed seems to be fine."

Slattery said the cows were outside the bedroom when the quake hit and were going crazy.

"They were just moaning and groaning and while everything was rocking and rolling they were going crazy. It was strange actually - an eerie feeling."

He said it was the biggest quake he had felt and it was scary for him and his family.

Slattery had also heard of milk silos falling over and at least three rotary cow sheds had come off the rollers in the Culverden area so were out of action until an experienced engineering firm could assist.

Sam Smith, who lives on a dairy farm at Culverden, said he had been lucky to have little damage at his house or farm, but knew of several others with significant damage.

"A lot of platforms that cows stand on have been smashed so [farmers] can't milk their cows which is a massive problem. Their sheds are just about condemned."

Smith has a friend on a farm at Waiau whose house and dairy sheds were wrecked. "They're absolutely totalled. There's liquefaction everywhere as well which is kind of crazy."

Smith still hasn't been able to get in touch with his grandparents who lived at Kaikoura.

North Canterbury Federated Farmers dairy chairman Michael Woodward said the community was rallying together and farmers in unaffected areas had lent three generators, which he would take to Culverden this afternoon.

Farmers were also sharing cow sheds and relying on generators.

Woodward said the biggest issues facing farmers were the lack of power and stock water, while Rotherham and Waiau farms had no way of getting milk picked up as there was no access to the areas due to damaged bridges or roads.

Fonterra has warned farmers at the top of South Island that some milk may not be collected due to road closures or issues accessing farms.

This included about 30 farms in Kaikoura which would not have their milk collected, while other farms around the country may have late collections.

Fonterra Farm Source chief operating officer Miles Hurrell said farmers who could not be reached or remained without power may have to dispose of their milk.

"We're doing our best to reach everyone who is due for collection immediately. With power out and phone lines down in some areas, that includes putting Farm Source teams on the road to go door to door to try to update those farmers with the latest information."