A Dark Day for NZ

Well, here I am in Rotorua, sitting in the restaurant of the Geyserland Hotel looking out on the geo thermal activity of the Prince of Wales Geyser and a huge bubbling mudpool on a very dark day for New Zealand; Christchurch was savagely rocked at 1pm today by a magnitude 6 plus earthquake. There are currently 65 confirmed dead and hundreds trapped in collapsed buildings. The iconic Christchurch Cathedral in Cathedral Square has finally lost its spire after miraculously holding onto it during the September 4th quake ,and multi storey office buildings have concertina-ed to the ground. The Canterbury TV Centre is no more and people are struggling to drive home through gridlocked streets to find out if their loved ones are safe and if they still have a home to sleep in tonight. There is liquefaction, dirty water, and huge cracks in the roads and people are huddling together to take comfort in each others’ arms. Despite seeing the images on television andlistening to the radio for an hour and a half on the way here from Hamilton, it is still difficult to believe that just a short way away people are struggling to comprehend what Mother Nature has thrown at them again just six months after the last devastating earthquake. I am reminded, though by the image of the geyser in front of me, the steam billowing from numerous holes in the ground all around and the strong smell of sulphur that hangs in the air and permeates everything, that the threat is very real of something similar happening right here in the North Island. Even in Hamilton, are we safe? Sandwiched between the volcanic cones of Auckland and the geothermal activity in Taupo and Rotorua and the volcanoes of Ruapehu and Ngaruahoe just a step away, we suddenly feel a little vulnerable. A friend (also an English immigrant) asked me today whether we would be better off back in good old Blighty… but we have also heard of earthquake activity in the North of England lately; what is happening to the world? Are the Mayan prophesies going to come true? I will probably spend a pleasant time wallowing in the thermal spa pools over the next few days, confident that my weary bones and stress tight muscles will benefit from the healing powers of the mineral rich hot water. I will also be extra conscious, though, that the fickle magic of nature that provides those benefits can also be a dreadful grim reaper.