Hundreds of tourists were evacuated from Kaikoura overnight in a major operation organised by Civil Defence and the Navy.
Commander Simon Rook in Kaikoura said the priority was to get tourists out to take the pressure off the town's dwindling resources.
The naval equivalent of a mighty steed, HMNZS Canterbury was poised to ferry the trapped and weary tourists from Kaikoura to Lyttleton.
After registering and a medical interview, a hearty meal has been very welcome for those on board.
The trauma of the past few days is starting to catch up with everyone and some have even mastered the art of sleeping on the move.
The earthquake has not been a great tourism advertisement for New Zealand, but the spirit and resilience of the people has.