Quake aftermath: 11 buildings red-stickered in Marlborough

9:24 pm on 22 November 2016

Part of Blenheim's main street has closed because an earthquake-damaged building poses a serious risk to public safety.

Marlborough district council building inspector Cherie Newman fills out a yellow restricted access placard for a badly damaged house in Ward, south Marlborough .

Marlborough District Council building inspector Cherie Newman fills out a yellow restricted-access placard for a badly damaged house in Ward, 50km south of Blenheim. Photo: RNZ / Kate Newton

Marlborough District Council chief executive Mark Wheeler said building inspectors found the premises, at 39 Queen Street, must either be strengthened immediately or demolished.

Eleven buildings in the district - 10 homes and one commercial property - have been red-stickered since last Monday's 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the upper South Island, according to a briefing this afternoon to the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board.

Southern Marlborough, including Ward and Seddon, was one of the areas worst-hit by the earthquake, with evacuations, power cuts and landslips.

Picton, meanwhile, welcomed its first cruise ship of the season yesterday - offering a potential boost to earthquake-hit businesses in the region.

A young busker keeps the line of passengers entertained with jazz in downtown Picton, while they wait to catch a bus back to the ship in nearby Shakespeare Bay.

A young busker keeps the line of passengers entertained with jazz in downtown Picton, while they wait to catch a bus back to the ship in nearby Shakespeare Bay. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Mayor John Leggett spoke to a business group days before the earthquake and had "nothing but positive things to say" about the district's economy, particularly its primary sectors and tourism.

"A lot's happened between then and now. That's for sure."

Mr Leggett said while the district was open for business, many wineries had suffered damage.

Winemakers open cellar doors for tourists

Winery tour guide Robert Tate said it was a tough time with people cancelling tours, but cellar doors remained open.

"Yeah, there's quite a bit of damage with tanks and barrels, so wineries are off-limits - they have to take care of their businesses with regard to earthquake-proofing their wineries, but all cellar doors are open.

"We're just looking forward to giving the tourists what they need, which is sauvignon blanc," Mr Tate said.

Emerald Princess in Shakespeare Bay.

Emerald Princess in Shakespeare Bay Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

The Prenzel fruit distillery is just outside Blenheim. Tasting room assistant Arlene Johnstone said it took a huge clean up of bottles and liqueurs to re-open.

"We didn't open for business again until last Thursday.

"Monday-Tuesday we weren't here at all, Wednesday we were here cleaning up - and open again Thursday."

They remained positive for the summer ahead, though the State Highway 1 closure, from Ward to Kaikōura, could slow business.

There was an ongoing risk of landslides, slips and Clarence River dam bursts.

In Picton, the National Whale Centre was yesterday humming with visitors. Lead custodian Jenny Steingraeber said they were trying to stay positive.

Jenny Steingraeber of the National Whale Centre in Picton.

Jenny Steingraeber Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

"A lot of people around here are of the same view, where we're trying to look at the positive side of things. We know there's potential for the tourism industry to take a hit and that includes us here, but to be honest I haven't noticed and today we've had over 100 visitors, which is really good."

It was a good sign that whales had been seen off Kaikōura. The last few days were concerning to all with a stake in the coastline, Ms Steingraeber said.

The Department of Conservation said many campgrounds and tracks in the upper South Island remained open.

National operations director Martin Kessick said only a small area around southern Marlborough was seriously affected.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly said 11 buildings had been red-stickered in Blenheim, rather than the wider district.

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