17 Nov 2016

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel has thanked all those involved in helping to get 449 tourists trapped in Kaikoura safely to Christchurch.

The tourists were evacuated on Wednesday by the HMNZS Canterbury.

In a letter penned today Mayor Dalziel said it had taken a concerted effort from Civil Defence staff and volunteers, foreign embassies, Council staff and a number of local businesses to ensure the 449 passengers were met safely and helped along to their next destination in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Evacuees disembark from the HMNZS Canterbury.

Evacuees disembark from the HMNZS Canterbury.

“I would like to thank all those involved in the effort for their willingness to respond, their quickness to prepare and the care they showed tourists and locals who had been stranded in Kaikoura since Monday morning,’’ the Mayor said.

“Each and every person involved in the process went out of their way to make the passengers feel welcome and help them on their way. I am proud of the city’s efforts over the past 24 hours.’’

The Canterbury docked at 1.30am Thursday. The evacuees were met by Civil Defence and taken by bus to Horncastle Arena where refreshments were provided while they planned their next steps.

Many had decided to head to Christchurch International Airport as soon as possible to meet their onward flight, where they were met by staff on the ground, while others went directly to pre-booked accommodation, were picked up by friends or family, or were hosted by either the Canterbury University in the halls of residence or at Spencer Park.

Mayor Dalziel offered specific thanks to:

  • The New Zealand Defence Force and the crew aboard the HMNZS Canterbury.
  • International embassies and MFAT who were on-hand to greet their citizens and offer support
  • Lyttelton Port for overseeing the arrival of the passengers and coordinating activity on port land
  • Vbase staff who had Horncastle Arena set-up for the arrival of 449 visitors and support staff, with food and water ready to go after hosting a summit of 1500 participants just hours before
  • Civil Defence volunteers who coordinated passenger registration on arrival
  • The Student Volunteer Army who loaded 10 tonnes of luggage on to waiting freight trucks and unloaded at Horncastle Arena
  • Allied Freight who transported the luggage to Horncastle Arena
  • Red Bus and Go Bus, along with taxis and shuttles, who transported the passengers and showed particular care and respect for people who were clearly exhausted
  • Canterbury Tourism and iSite staff for greeting and assisting travellers with their onward plans
  • Christchurch International Airport staff who greeted passengers on arrival and made sure they were comfortable as they waited for flights
  • Red Cross and St John for medical support as required
  • Council staff who are part of our Civil Defence team and worked tirelessly planning and managing the operation
  • Staff from Environment Canterbury who have worked around the clock in the Regional Civil Defence Headquarters to provide the co-ordination and support to get the stranded visitors out
  • The many individuals and community groups who have offered their time and support

“Most of all, I would like to acknowledge the 449 passengers who arrived in our city aboard the HMNZS Canterbury this morning. Despite experiencing a major disaster, being stranded for several days and a long journey in the middle of the night, people were gracious, thankful and patient as we worked through the arrival process,’’ Mayor Dalziel said.