As Kaikoura reels from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, Murchison is buzzing.

Leigh Knowles, who owns the Hampden Hotel and leases the town's second pub The Commercial, said today all businesses had been stretched since the earthquake closed State highway 1 down the Kaikoura coast, sending all ferry traffic through the Lewis Pass via Murchison.

"We're all struggling to keep up because we're so busy and run off our feet and we're all short of staff," Knowles said.

They hoped to be able to recruit some Kaikoura people displaced by the quake to help fill the gap in service jobs at Murchison.


"We're having a meeting with National Party list MP Maureen Pugh this afternoon to talk about our staffing situation and possibly get people from Kaikoura here as soon as possible," Knowles said.

She said all 20 rooms at the Hampden Hotel and five at The Commercial had been "chocka" all week.

"With the announcement yesterday stating that State highway 1 will not be reopened until 2019, I've had an influx of bookings from truck drivers."

As well as her regular truckies staying at the hotels, they were now fielding inquiries from trucking companies she had never heard of looking for lodgings, some for the next three years.

"One company has even made a booking for every Wednesday and Thursday night until further notice."

Meanwhile, a civil defence team from the Grey District Council was heading to Kaikoura today to help out.

- Greymouth Star