They came ready with their bags, and even rescued a goldfish.
Residents of the Courtenay Place Maison Cabriole apartments were allowed back into their homes briefly yesterday to grab a few essentials before Christmas.
The apartment building is behind the cordon around the Reading Carpark, which was damaged during the 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake on November 14.
The carpark is to be demolished.
Brittany Godderidge, retrieved her 2-year-old goldfish, Sir Swimsalot.
"He hasn't been fed for a month, but he's still alive," Godderidge told Radio New Zealand.
"[The tank] was gross. It was green and slimy and smelly, so that's a big cleaning job now.
"When we first got evacuated we only got told it was going to be two days, so we grabbed small things for only two days and then the next day we were told two weeks, and then it was four weeks, now it's an extra three months."
She also grabbed clothes, her laptop and documents.
"It has been hard not having what you need - silly things like birth certificates and stuff, you don't think you need it but then you go for an interview and you [do]. It's just the little things like T-shirts, shorts and even underwear," she said.
Wellington City Council's Phil Becker said no one ran to grab belongings, but there was a sense of urgency to get in and out fast.
He said everyone was briefed beforehand: no one was allowed to bring out lounge suites or the telly, but they grabbed clothes and personal items.