I was down in the South Island checking out the details of the Red Carpet LOTR Locations tour and we were in Te Anau, the closest town to the epicentre of last week’s massive earthquake. [More]

Well, we’d had a great time so far – rocketing around the site of the burned Rohan village in a farmer’s 4WD, jetboating down the river Anduin, following a snowplow to the edges of Fangorn Forest. But the earthquake that night was something else again!

Just after midnight our hotel room started to shake from side to side like it was built on a wobbly jelly. My room-mate and I looked at each other, both thinking ‘I’ll get up and run under the doorway if she does….’ I had time to think ‘no point getting up now, it’s going to stop any moment’ about 20 times before finally getting up and standing under a doorway. And still it went on.

Once it was over everyone piled out into the hotel hallway in their pyjamas, talking about it of course. Nobody seemed too frightened. There was no damage, and the hotel was built in such a way that there were no scary creaking and cracking noises to alarm us. Some older buildings make a lot more noise in a quake.

The oddest thing was that the ground continued to sway very slightly for a long time aftewards, as though we were riding a slow gentle swell, and as we stood around we’d rock from foot to foot as though tipsy.

The point of this is that I’m registering my disagreement with those people who are objecting to having the Embassy Theatre in Wellington strengthened for earthquakes in time for the ROTK premiere. [More I would not have wanted to be in a large masonry building without earthquake strengthening in a quake like that, and given the fact that Wellington is built on a faultline, the Embassy Trust is wise to insist on meeting seismic requirements.