People in Wellington Tell Us About Last Night’s Big Quake

"My apartment, like everyone's, turned into just a total mess and everything fell off the walls."
November 14, 2016, 12:00am

Earthquake damage in central Wellington. All images by the author.

Living in Wellington, you know you're constantly under the threat of "The Big One". New Zealand's capital city sits on prominent fault line you see slicing through the harbour and hills. Wellingtonians are simultaneously accustomed to earthquakes and live in fear of a devastating tremor.

When a 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit at 12.02am last night, people evacuated their homes and rushed to higher ground up Mount Victoria. Communal workspace BizDojo became an impromptu refuge in the middle of the night when co-founder Nick Shewring tweeted a message offering displaced people a coffee and somewhere to hang out.


This morning, the central city streets were eerie with just a few people making their way into work. Areas were blocked off while building inspectors assessed the damage. Rather than the usual Monday morning rush, people wanted to stop and share their stories of a terrifying night.

Making hot chocolates for people needing a warm place for the night — BizDojo (@BizDojo)November 13, 2016


"My apartment, like everyone's, turned into just a total mess and everything fell off the walls. I got out of the house and cruised around the city and saw there were thousands around the streets, standing there in their robes and looking pretty lost.

I came here to see how the BizDojo was doing, and saw that we didn't have anything that had moved. Nothing had fallen. I thought, how can we open our doors and just get people to hang out here who have nowhere else to go? I did a video tweet out and just said "Hey anyone who needs a place to come hang out and have a hot cup of coffee come here" and the council picked that up.

Most of the people who came through were tourists and were just feeling very displaced. We were all pretty shaken. It was a really interesting mix of people and that's kind of our value at the BizDojo to focus on community. We aren't a registered refugee centre but it's a huge space and we have everything here. We went through a mountain of milk last night. A tonne of coffees and a tonne of hot chocolates. In these situations you just have to do what you can to help others, so it was really neat to provide the space and make everyone's night hopefully just a little less dramatic."


"We were up on the eighth floor in Wellington CBD. My building is designed to flex, you think that would be reassuring but it's not, it's quite unnerving. My flatmate and I decided we should get up Mt Vic quite quickly in case of a tsunami. There were people up there already. You could see some parts of the CBD didn't have lights on. We then went out to Porirua because it was higher ground, and then came back at 5am to come here to BizDojo. I thought it would be reassuring to go in and see work colleagues but work is cancelled. Now I have some time to read. I probably would have preferred to go to work given the circumstances."


"I was in Porirua, it was crazy. The pole was shaking like this, the road was shaking like this. I was in the car and was getting ready to jump out but then I saw the poles shaking. We got told to come into work this morning to close the whole street. Just stay away from those big buildings. The city isn't the smartest place to be right now"


"I thought it was thunder at first because there were lots of flashes of light coming through. The whole sky was a really light blue and white. I think it was just force and energy coming out of the earth."


"I was quite surprised how hard it was. I was in the quake in Canterbury too. I was surprised how calm the locals were. Civil Defence were great but the tourists were just freaked out. Luckily we are all safe. I was over there in the hotel across from the railway. We were evacuated up to the top of the hill, sat there freezing for about three hours then we were told to go to the Beehive where they made us a nice breakfast."


"I'm feeling shaky. I was very frustrated and very scared, hopefully it doesn't happen again. My hotel is close to the CBD. I'm just visiting and I leave in a week, I have to stay because I have already paid anyway. We were outside last night until 2am, now I am just looking around."

Follow Laura on Twitter.