Quake would dev­as­tate iso­lated re­sort


‘‘This is not a good time to be blase. We know the Alpine Fault is due. We can't af­ford to be blase.’’

Queen­stown’s iso­la­tion, moun­tain­ous ter­rain, pop­u­la­tion and prox­im­ity to the Alpine Fault means should a large earth­quake oc­cur, the sit­u­a­tion would be worse than Kaik­oura, ex­perts say.

Emer­gency Man­age­ment Otago chair­man Stephen Wood­head said now was the time to warn peo­ple of what was pos­si­ble.

‘‘Have a look at what has oc­curred [in Kaik­oura]. This is not a good time to be blase. We know the Alpine Fault is due. I don’t want to scare peo­ple but you just need to un­der­stand the na­ture of this.’’

With just two road ac­cesses into the re­sort wind­ing through gorges and bluffs and ‘‘just about ev­ery­thing you can think of’’ with re­gard to haz­ards, the town could be cut off for weeks, Wood­head said.

‘‘The road ac­cess does have haz­ards at­tached with it. The Ne­vis Bluff [on State High­way 6] for ex­am­ple. The Ne­vis falls down on a sunny day [so] . . . we’re not just talk­ing small land­slides. It will take quite some time to clear.’’

The num­ber of vis­i­tors to Queen­stown, es­pe­cially dur­ing Christ­mas and Easter, could make it dif­fi­cult lo­gis­ti­cally, he said.

‘‘Kiwi’s tend to be quite re­silient but . . . our com­mu­ni­ties aren’t as re­silient as years ago. We tend to have a ‘just in time’ so­ci­ety. It’s just a good op­por­tu­nity for ... the whole com­mu­nity to say ‘oh, this could hap­pen here and are we pre­pared?’’’

Cen­tral Otago emer­gency man­age­ment of­fi­cer Trevor An­drews said Queen­stown would end up like Kaik­oura but ‘‘ten­fold re­ally’’.

Busi­nesses and the tourism sec­tor in Queen­stown needed to have emer­gency plans in place, he said.

‘‘If any­thing keeps me awake at night in this part of the coun­try, it’s how we will man­age our guests and for­eign na­tion­als.’’

Tai­lored re­sponse plans for ev­ery com­mu­nity in the dis­trict were be­ing worked on by Civil De­fence and were ex­pected to have com­pleted plans within two years.

GNS prin­ci­pal sci­en­tist Kelvin Ber­ry­man said there was a 30 to 50 per cent chance of a large earth­quake on the Alpine Fault in the next 50 years.

Earth­quake dam­age would be ‘‘ten­fold’' should Queen­stown ex­pe­ri­ence sim­i­lar to Kaik­oura Emer­gency Man­age­ment Otago chair­man Stephen Wood­head

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