Kaikoura seals and shearwater populations regenerating after quake, DOC says

One year on from the Kaikoura earthquake seals and Hutton's shearwaters are being seen in large numbers but big efforts will be needed to save a species such as the Ohau rock daisy, the Department of Conservation says.

The magnitude 7.8 November 14, 2016 quake caused substantial damage at the large seal colony at Ohau Point, north of Kaikoura. It is still too dangerous to reopen to the public.

"Many seals have moved to the north though a considerable number remain at Ohau Point," said DOC's northern South Island operations director Roy Grose.

The Kaikoura seal population was large, with about 2000 pups born each year at the point alone, and overall it was showing resilience, he said.

Two prongs of the sculpture represent Jo-Anne Mackinnon and Albert Louis Edgar, while the third represents upheaval in the land. Source: 1 NEWS

Up to 15 per cent of Hutton's shearwater nesting burrows in the two remaining Kaikoura Ranges colonies were wiped out by slips. It was likely nesting birds were killed and their eggs destroyed.

A third colony, established on the Kaikoura Peninsula to ensure the species' survival, was intact, Mr Grose said.

"Encouragingly, since the earthquake large flocks of the seabirds have been seen feeding at sea and this spring the birds have been flying into the colonies for the breeding season."

However, the Ohau rock daisy, which only grows on Ohau Point's coastal bluffs, had most of its habitat wiped out by a landslide. Only an estimated 80-100 plants remained.

The town was left badly battered by the quake which destroyed the main railway line through the region. Source: Breakfast

Abseilers had collected seed from six plants and about 200 plants were now growing at a nursery near Nelson. They will be planted on the bluffs next autumn.

DOC says two huts, Barratts Hut and Barratts Bivy, and an historic Clarence Reserve bunkhouse were destroyed by the quake.

"Most South Marlborough and Kaikoura conservation areas are open to the public. Some remain closed because they are unsafe, inaccessible or repairs are still to be carried out," Mr Grose said.

In 2016, the 7.8 earthquake wreaked havoc on Kaikoura. Source: 1 NEWS