22 Jul 2009

Quake moves South Island closer to Australia

10:18 pm on 22 July 2009

Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt is welcoming news that parts of the South Island of New Zealand are now up to 30 centimetres closer to Australia.

Puysegur Point has moved a school ruler length towards Australia following last week's 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Fiordland.

GNS Science says Te Anau has moved westward by 10cm, Bluff by 3cm, Alexandra by 2cm and Dunedin by 1cm.

Mr Shadbolt welcomes the land movement.

"I'm absolutely delighted. I built an international airport in Invercargill because we're the closest city in New Zealand to Australia and it will become more and more realistic the closer we get. It's great news as far as I'm concerned."

New Zealand frequently suffers earthquakes because it marks the meeting point of the Australian and Pacific continental plates.

Scientists say the South Island will gradually move back to where it was before the quake - but that process will take hundreds of years.