Tag Archives: earthquake

My favorite spot in New Zealand was likely destroyed in the recent earthquakes

The Ohau Point New Zealand Fur Seal Colony on the Pacific Coast just north of Kaikoura was destroyed by a landslide in the recent earthquake, and it seems likely that my favorite spot in all of New Zealand, the Ohau Stream Waterfall, was destroyed as well.

Photo of the landslide at Ohau Point from the article
Photo of the landslide at Ohau Point from the article “Famous seal breeding ground destroyed by quake” on Stuff.co.nz

It is likely some seals were killed in the landslides.

It was fortunate timing, however, as many would have been out at sea feeding ahead of pupping season.

It was unlikely there were pups at the waterfall at the time of the earthquake, Morrissey said.

The waterfall was not yet accessible, so it was unclear if it remained intact, but due to the surrounding damage it was unlikely to have survived.

When the seals returned in the coming weeks they would not recognise their home, Morrissey said.

“Those seals generally come back to the area where they were born. They’ll go in there and it won’t be like anywhere they recognise before, so they’ll probably just go and breed on other parts of the coast.”

The colony will likely return at some stage, albeit in a different form.
“Famous seal breeding ground destroyed by quake”, Stuff.co.nz

Ohau Point Seal Colony
Ohau Point Seal Colony in February 2016

Since many seals probably survived, the seal colony itself will have survived in some form as well, but the Ohau Stream Waterfall is a unique place, and if destroyed, is a huge loss.

Ohau Stream Waterfall in February 2016
Ohau Stream Waterfall in February 2016

The waterfall, pool, and the small glade around them are a special place at any time of year, but between April and October the place becomes a baby seal daycare, as their mothers leave them to frolic in the pool while they go out to fish in the Pacific Ocean.

I read online that someone had seen the carpark at the start of the short walk to the waterfall intact, so there is some hope that the waterfall and stream survived.  I really hope to see this place again!

Curious seal pup at Ohau Stream Waterfall
Curious seal pup at Ohau Stream Waterfall

Search “Ohau” for all of my various posts about this great little spot.

Search “Kaikoura” for all of my posts about the whole area.

If the Ohau Waterfall pool is lost forever, it is reminiscent of the Pink and White Terraces, natural wonders of New Zealand, reportedly the largest silica sinter deposits on earth, lost and thought destroyed in the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera.  Read this article on the always helpful Wikipedia for more on the Pink and White Terraces and their partial rediscovery.

White Terraces, New Zealand, Charles Blomfield (1848–1926) - from Wikimedia Commons
White Terraces, New Zealand, Charles Blomfield (1848–1926) – from Wikimedia Commons

The coastline around Kaikoura has been altered forever, with the seabed in the area raised a meter or more in places by the quake.

Waipapa bay before and after November 14, 2016 earthquake
Waipapa bay before and after November 14, 2016 earthquake

Aerial photographs (above) show the before and after seabed uplift north of Kaikoura – estimated to be between 2 – 2.5 metres.
Photo Credit: Tonkin+Taylor (@TonkinTaylor) [https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CxRXBeWVEAA1Oms.jpg]
Photo Credit: Ryan Gold (@runr447)
[https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CxUNkWmUoAAEv80.jpg]
New Zealand, South Island Earthquake November 14, 2016
East Coast South Island; 91km northeast Christchurch; Kaikoura 

Even without a “before” picture it’s easy to see where the coastline used to be, and the new upraised land.

Seabed uplift caused by November 14, 2016 earthquake
Seabed uplift caused by November 14, 2016 earthquake 

Aerial photographs (above) show the seabed uplift north of Kaikoura – estimated to be between 2 – 2.5 metres.
Photo Credit: Tonkin+Taylor (@TonkinTaylor) [https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CxRXB1YVEAA_ipz.jpg]
New Zealand, South Island Earthquake November 14, 2016
East Coast South Island; 91km northeast Christchurch; Kaikoura

Today I was told that locals were recently out moving hundreds of paua, left high and dry by the changes to the coast, in hopes of saving the local population, and eating dozens of local lobsters, while worrying that they might be the last from the area for some time.

For more pictures of Kaikoura’s altered coastline, click here.
Also see this article in the New Zealand Herald.

The video below shows an attempt to drive from Parnassus to Kaikoura.  One of the two tunnels just south of Kaikoura is open, but he doesn’t make it much further.

Google Maps, characteristically up to date, doesn’t currently show SH 1 as an option for this trip.