21 Apr 2017

Leaving Kaikōura for good

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:09 pm on 21 April 2017

A South Island campground owner is being forced to leave her business after more than five months without income following the devastating Kaikōura earthquake.

One of the major slips on SH1 north of Kaikōura

One of the major slips on SH1 north of Kaikōura. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook the South Island's upper east coast last November, destroying infrastructure and cutting off communities.

Belinda Girl, the owner of the Waipapa Bay campground and crayfish shop on the coast north of Kaikōura, told Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan customers could not get to her business.

"It's been different. It is the new normal now. But it has been very hectic now that the construction companies have moved in. But it's very lonely, there's only four of us inside the gated community. There's no traffic, no people, no nothing. Now it's just dump trucks and helicopters."

Ms Girl said they were given government support, but that had run out - and her and her partner could not stay any longer, after living without income for more than five months.

"We tried everything. We thought we could house and feed the workers because we've got a fully set-up campground, but the reality is that the land is just not safe."

She said the earthquake had made the land susceptible to slips and it was too dangerous.

On top of that, the place was now covered with spiders and mosquitos due to the new land that had been pushed out of the water by the earthquake.

"The mosquitos are New Zealand rock pool mosquito and they're a nasty black mosquito that doesn't buzz and gee, they're savage.

"The place is just crawling in them, because there's 50m of rock pool out there now that were never there before for 10km along the coast."

Ms Girl is now moving to Ngakawau, on the West Coast.

She and her 72-year-old partner owned a dwelling they were planning on doing up for their retirement, but after the earthquake left them with nothing in the bank, their only option was to move into the building as it was, with a dirt floor and without a kitchen or a bathroom.

She was not sure what she would do on the West Coast yet, but hoped to pick up some work driving coal mine trucks or helping out at a friend's business in Arthur's Pass.

She said the effects of the earthquake had been devastating.

"It's a life-changing thing. Everybody has been affected by it. It's huge. You can't let it get to you. You've got to pick yourself up and carry on, eh. I'm a Kiwi girl, I can handle it."