For our first dinner out since starting the trip we visited ‘Winnie’s’ a pizza bar in Queenstown that had an eclectic retro-sports bar vibe, and more importantly a large open fireplace. Here I quickly wolfed down a large veggo and a pint of Tomahawk beer, and then another pint. This induced a decidedly frisky and light-on-my-feet countenance.
Immediately picking up on my mood through my strategic decoy of slurred speech and pizza burps, Kelly assured me that there would be absolutely no post date night shenanigans, and to pack away any such thoughts… immediately. Little did she know.
Back to the van we lay in bed and watched some BBC comedy on YouTube and laughed until our jaws ached and our eyes teared.
When that was all done, we both just lay there listening to the birds settling in for the night. I was just thinking about revisiting the shenanigan situation when the van started rocking from side to side.
I think I knew within a second that this was an earthquake. It wasn’t a shaking, it was if the van was on a giant slider, moving back and forth about 0.5-1 metres (my memory is prone to exaggeration, so perhaps a little less). It felt weird but was quite a pleasant sensation actually. It lasted around 1 minute all up.
Afterwards there was a loud and sustained silence. We were in a van park just on the edge of town and as the movement had seemed significant I was listening intently to hear if there were any sounds of human distress.
But there was just quietude for ages. And then, as people in the van park processed what was going on I guess, the sounds of van doors sliding open and voices and laughter and much discussion of earthquakes and landslides and tsunamis. The paddle steamer down on lake Wakatipu whistled in excitement.
A little later Kelly looked up the quake which at magnitude 5.6 had been categorised as ‘moderate’.
The epicentre had been located around 30 km offshore from Milford Sound which in turn is about 200 odd km from where we are. So things must have been really moving around down there.
New Zealand is in a pretty dynamic geological state, the evidence written large in the mountainous country all around us. So it is not surprising to get to experience a little tectonic activity. Our first earthquake.