A little after midnight, DH and I were woken by the bed trembling beneath us. Living and having grown up in the capital city of New Zealand, this was nothing too concerning. Until the shaking didn’t subside after about ten seconds. DH, man of quick reflexes even at night, leaped out of bed to stand under the door frame. I’m a little, how shall I say, slower in my reflexes and muttered something like yeah-meh-nah and stayed under the covers–then the shaking got a lot worse. So, I moved, fast, and scrambled to stand beside my hubby. We braced, held on, and I screamed like a little girl as the biggest, most violent quake I’ve ever experienced shook our house from side to side like a puppy whipping his head back and forth with a chew toy in its mouth. Crashes were coming from in front of us (a vase went flying and my mum’s beautiful china tea sets in the living room flew out of the cabinet I found later) and behind us, more crashes and thumps as books and papers and all the various crap one keeps around went poltergeisting off the shelves. I could see my son in the doorway opposite us (thankfully) but there was absolutely zero chance that I could make it to Miss 16’s bedroom because no solid ground existed beneath our feet and it was just too dangerous. Terrifying. The shaking/swaying/rolling took a looong time to stop.

During this time, the only thing I could think of was my family. And as soon as were were safe, my extended family and friends. Thank God our mobile phones were working and we were fortunate enough not to lose the power. I can honestly say, I’ve never been so scared in my life. Then the aftershocks started coming, and holy crap, they kept on coming. 

We got the worse of the broken glass off the floor and decided to leave the rest until the morning. Good luck to us trying to get any sleep at this point. Master 19 had disappeared back into his room, and we’d got my 82 year old father back to bed. Miss 16 was still too traumatized to think of sleep – especially as the big chest of drawers in her room had completely fallen over. But we tried. Unsuccessfully, considering the bed continued to shake under us every few moments. Then the phone rang, a friend calling to tell us a tsunami warning had been issued for our area since we are on flat land near the coastline. As a child growing up in this suburb, my greatest fear was a tsunami–so you can imagine the pounding of my heart as we grabbed our bag with important papers, shoved kittys Kevin and Alfie into a carrier (unfortunately our 3rd cat had slipped outside and we didn’t have time to find her – update, she’s fine!), loaded up the car with us and my dad, and headed to higher ground to the friend who’d called us.

We arrived to their house with an almost party atmosphere (we Kiwis are a resilient, stoic bunch, even when we’re scared) and there were 20 of us crammed into their living room, (more refugees arrived after us too) including 2 dogs and 3 cats. We drank hot tea and ate potato chips, listening to the TV and hurting to the stories of so much damage in our beautiful country. The tsunami warning was lifted around 5:00 a.m and we were able to return just as dawn was breaking. We managed to doze for a couple of hours before we got up to tackle the clean up. I’m so thankful for the safety of family and friends, and that the damage in our house was only superficial. Other places in New Zealand were much harder hit, and sadly, two people have lost their lives.

One thing is clear in my mind this Monday morning. Family is important. Friends are important. Our fur-babies are important. Stuff, is just stuff.

Kia kaha, Aotearoa.


Comments (12)

  1. Rhonda Brant


    So relieved that you are all okay. Thoughts and prayers are with those who weren’t so lucky, and hoping the clean up around your beautiful country is quick and no more unfortunate loss is found.

  2. Refugia D Vargas


    Tracy, glad to hear your family and most your countrymen are o.k..
    Will pray for your country safety, God bless.

  3. Sharen


    So sorry to hear about this latest earthquake. You live in such a beautiful part of the world and to hear about the destruction from these events is heartbreaking. The good news is that you and your family are ok and will make it through. My thoughts are with you and all of your friends, neighbors and family.

    • Reply

      Hi Sharen,
      Thanks for your kind words. We have been extremely fortunate, but for some fellow countrymen, the next few weeks will be very hard for them.

      Kind regards,

      Tracey A.

  4. Terrill Rosado


    Wow, I just saw a post from another Kiwi author about this and came to see what you had to say. Scary, indeed. I live in Western Washington (USA) near the Cascade Mt. Range and Mt. Rainier. We keep getting told that we’re due for the “big one.” – earthquake, that is. We’ve already had our volcanic eruption, but they’re all kind of related around here. I’m so glad you’re OK and avoided a tsunami. I think I would fear that even more than an earthquake.

    • Reply

      Hi Terrill,
      I still remember watching Mt. Rainier erupt on TV when I was a kid – and thought it looked so cool – but scary! Yeah, I have a weird fascination with tsunamis – love to hate them, scared me brainless as a kid living opposite the beach!

      Kind regards,
      Tracey A.

  5. fl_connie


    So glad you and yours are safe! Visiting Christchurch has been on my bucket list for over 50 years – and I am so saddened by the damage & lives destroyed by this earthquake and the last big one, too. We just have to deal with hurricanes & tornadoes (eek!). Stay safe!

    • Reply

      Hi Connie,
      Well, I think dealing with tornadoes would be terrifying too! Thanks for your kind thoughts – hope you make it to Christchurch one day. 🙂

      Kind regards,
      Tracey A.

  6. Karina


    I wasn’t aware it was so bad in NZ with the earthquake, living in Sweden! I am glad you are fine!!

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