Giant eagle model promoting Hobbit movies falls prey to Wellington tremor

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 12:03am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 9:36am


Central New Zealand, including the capital, Wellington, was shaken by a magnitude-6.3 earthquake yesterday.

The damage was mostly superficial, including a giant eagle model that fell from the ceiling at Wellington airport.

The tremor hit just before 4pm at a depth of 27 kilometres and was widely felt throughout the North and South islands. It was followed by a series of smaller aftershocks.

It was strong enough to damage some homes, trigger rockslides and road closures, and knock items from shelves.

Watch: Strong 6.3-earthquake hits New Zealand

The eagle sculpture in the Wellington Airport was placed there recently to promote director Peter Jackson's second movie in his popular Hobbit trilogy. It fell from its overhead perch to the floor.

New Zealand's GeoNet put the quake at a magnitude of 6.2, but had it at a shallower depth of 10 kilometres.

Some houses in the small town of Eketahuna suffered broken windows and structural damage, but police said there had been no reports of injuries.

"I've seen the neighbours and they're a bit shaken up, but apart from that no damage," said Brian Smith, of Eketahuna, describing the tremor as a sharp jolt.

"My wife was outside in the garden and she said she couldn't stand up and had to sit down."

The local supermarket manager, Tanmay Patel, said the quake, which tossed merchandise from shelves, was terrifying.

"This is something I never want to have again. Felt like the roof was going to fall off," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Pam Lochore, wife of All Blacks great Brian Lochore, said photographs had fallen off shelves and "a rugby ball went flying across the room" in their home at Masterton in the North Island's south.

New Zealand is on the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, forming part of the so-called "Ring of Fire", and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year.

A devastating 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the South Island city of Christchurch in 2011 killed 185 people. It was one of the nation's deadliest disasters of the modern era.

Wellington was the scene of the country's most powerful earthquake in 1855. That devastating 8.2-magnitude quake caused four deaths and changed the city's entire geography, pushing the shoreline out 200 metres as it thrust the harbour floor upwards.

Agence France-Presse and Associated Press