Why you should still travel to New Zealand after the Earthquake

As the magnitude 7.5 earthquake which hit New Zealand made the headlines this week, it reminded us that the forces that shaped the country’s spectacular scenery come with a caveat: nature is a powerful beast. So as lingering aftershocks are being forecast by the experts, should we give New Zealand a miss? The answer is no. Here are reasons why you should still travel to New Zealand after the earthquake to see what this amazing country has to offer.

Why you should still travel to New Zealand after the Earthquake

Much of the country is unaffected

The area hit by the earthquake covers the northern part of South Island. It stretches from Wellington in the north to Christchurch in the south, which means that there are huge swathes of the country which remain totally unaffected. The roads in and out of Kaikoura have been badly affected by landslides triggered by the quake, and the tourist town is likely to remain cut off to road traffic for the foreseeable future. But all of the country’s international airports are open. From Milford Sound’s dramatic fjord to the vast beaches of Northland, it’s business as usual for the majority of New Zealand’s tourist destinations.

Ninety Mile Beach: travel New Zealand after the Earthquake
Ninety Mile Beach: Photo on Wikimedia by Noel Jones / CC BY-SA 2.0

It’s almost summer in New Zealand

Summer heralds peak tourist season for this southern hemisphere nation and, outside the ski resorts of the Queenstown area, it means that this is when those who earn a living from tourism do the bulk of their business. It’s vital that incomes don’t fall. Something like 7.5% of the nation’s working population, a figure in excess of 180,000 people, is directly employed in the industry. Tourism expenditure is on the rise, with the latest figures indicating a total figure of over $34 billion. Summer is also the best season to travel New Zealand.

Queenstown from Bob’s Peak: travel New Zealand after the Earthquake
Queenstown from Bob’s Peak: Photo on Wikimedia by Lawrence Murray / CC BY 2.0

Your chances of survival are high

Sadly, two people are reported to have lost their lives in the November 2016 quake. There’s no getting away from it: earthquakes are dangerous and sudden. But statistically, the chances of being killed in a road accident are much higher; in 2015, 319 people died as a result of road traffic accidents. Personally, that doesn’t stop me from driving: I’ve still rented a car to travel New Zealand after the earthquake and as traffic levels are so much lower than in my home region of Europe, I’ve rarely felt safer behind the wheel. Keep abreast of any developments in terms of aftershocks by following newsfeeds and NZ Civil Defence on platforms such as Twitter, especially if you are planning to visit any areas affected or close by.

Pohutu geyser, near Rotorua. travel New Zealand after the Earthquake
Pohutu geyser, near Rotorua

Tectonic activity is responsible for some of the country’s best scenery

Tectonic and geothermal activity goes hand in hand. Geothermal activity is the name given to the consequences of heat being transferred from deep underground to the earth’s surface, and it’s what’s responsible for myriad attractions in New Zealand, from the geysers and hot springs that characterise the Rotorua area to the famous Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula. Let’s not forget the country’s many volcanoes: Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and White Island are all active and yet are very popular with tourists of all nationalities. The downside, of course, is that of all the hazards associated with the tectonic plates on which New Zealand sits, earthquakes are the most unpredictable and in that respect, quite terrifying. But I for one won’t let them stand in the way of enjoying one of the most beautiful, diverse and welcoming countries on the planet. Don’t be afraid to travel to New Zealand after the earthquake.

White Island Lake in 2005: travel New Zealand
White Island Lake in 2005: Image by James Shook / CC BY 2.5

New Zealand, we wish you a speedy recovery.

About JuliaHammond

Website: http://www.juliahammond.co.uk

Julia Hammond is a Geography teacher turned travel writer with a passion for places. Winning Mail Travel's Deep South competition was the catalyst to write for a diverse range of publications including Bradt's Bus Pass Britain Rides Again. She’s written Kindle guides to Cape Town, Peru and London for Unanchor and advice on Savannah for Wanderlust. When not travelling, she can be found at home in Essex planning her next trip, her two golden retrievers curled up at her feet.

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