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Tourists warned of New Zealand travel disruptions after earthquake

16 November 2016 09:01

A major earthquake struck New Zealand's south Island early Monday

A major earthquake struck New Zealand's south Island early Monday

A flight operator has warned of disruptions to travel to New Zealand in the aftermath of a powerful earthquake and travel alerts have been issue to holidaymakers visiting the country.

The notifications were issued after New Zealand's South Island was shaken by a powerful earthquake hours after an initial quake killed two people.

The new 6.3 magnitude tremor struck at 1.45pm local time at a depth of six miles, north-east of Christchurch.

This followed a 7.5-magnitude quake, which hit the same area shortly after midnight, triggering tsunami warnings.

Flights can be deferred

Air New Zealand said that there could be disruptions to travel.

The flight operator has introduced flight flexibility, allowing ticketed customers of all fare types to defer or bring forward travel "to a later/earlier Air New Zealand flight before Monday November 21 2016 without change penalty or fare difference".

The firm said: "Any customer who opts to commence their journey as planned is advised that "they do so at their own risk"".

Tourists trapped

Military helicopters and a navy ship have been sent to rescue about 1,000 tourists and hundreds of residents who are stranded in the coastal town of Kaikoura after the earthquake cut off access.

Home to about 2,000 residents, Kaikoura is a popular destination for travellers taking part in whale-watching expeditions or wanting a stopover with mountain views.

But the quake has knocked out water supplies and sewerage systems and left people with no easy way out.

Tsunami warning

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said: "A tsunami warning has issued for coastal areas following a series of large earthquakes in the Marlborough and Canterbury areas of South Island shortly after midnight local time on Monday.

Tourism New Zealand said the damage had affected mainly rural areas, and that all airports were open and operational.

"Much of New Zealand remains unaffected. It appears the greatest impact is in rural North Canterbury, Kaikoura and Wellington, although information is still being confirmed," a spokesman said. "If you have clients who are booked to travel to New Zealand, or enquiring about future travel plans, you should first check the Home Office for travel advice."

Members of the public concerned for the safety of friends and family have been encouraged to contact the British High Commission in Wellington.

Holidaymakers should take out travel insurance while visiting the country to protect themselves against any problems they may encounter during their trip.