A swift jolt from the earth is all it takes to take Rotorua's Kathy Nicholls back to that frightening day in Christchurch when 185 people lost their lives.

The shaky effects of the Kaikoura earthquake last year, felt in Rotorua, were enough to unleash a flood of memories for Mrs Nicholls of that fateful day in Christchurch - six years ago today

"For me it's not that scary when the earthquake is actually happening, wondering whether it is going to escalate is the scary part.

"You don't know how to describe it unless you were there," she said. "In Christchurch the noise which preceded the quake sounded like a truck coming at you and suddenly there was a jolt. The main part was quite a few sharp, short jolts.


"For the Kaikoura one, it felt like someone shaking a car."

Mrs Nicholls, her then husband Kevin and their sons Caleb and Joshua got through the magnitude 7.1 quake on September 4, 2010, relatively unscathed. But then the 6.3 magnitude quake tore through Christchurch on February 22. They had just moved to Christchurch from Rotorua a year prior.

Mrs Nicholls was at work in a warehouse by herself when the big one hit.

"I was on the same street as the CTV building, I went outside and looked up the street and there was just this big dust cloud.

"I just immediately thought, 'I'm going to get the kids'." That 20-minute trip took three to four hours."

Mr Nicholls, from England, had no experience of quakes. They decided to take advantage of flights leaving Christchurch and headed for the North Island. They then moved back to Rotorua.

Mrs Nicholls is an event co-ordinator at Rotorua Museum - which is currently closed to the public until at least April due to quake damage.

The family has no regrets about leaving Christchurch. They love the lifestyle Rotorua has to offer.


Mrs Nicholls still has friends in Christchurch and feels for them once again with the recent fires.

"It's a community that just gets together again and again. They have become a really tight community despite being a big city. It's lovely to see that."