Tourists will be flown to a Christchurch welfare centre as recovery efforts ramp up to get hundreds of stranded holidaymakers out of quake-ravaged Kaikoura.

Red Cross recovery communications manager Simon Makker said it had been a rough night as numerous aftershocks rocked the region, keeping everyone on edge.

"It's been a bit rough to tell the truth," said Makker.

"There wasn't much sleep going on. There's been numerous aftershocks during the night. Seems like every 10-15 minutes there was a good rattle."


He said up to 100 people took refuge at Red Cross welfare centre and he estimated at least that number again opted to sleep in cars.

The relentless tremors had left people desperate to get out of the holiday town.

"Most are pretty tired, most are pretty over it and are pretty keen to get out of here today," he said.

This morning the Air Force would begin flying trapped tourists to Christchurch where a welfare centre had been established at Woodend School.

From there tourists would be transferred to Christchurch Airport or accommodation in the city.

Red Cross workers were due on the ground to help with the post-quake effort bringing water bladders and air shelters.