Entries in New Zealand (32)


Powerful Earthquake Strikes Wellington, New Zealand

Zoonar/Thinkstock(WELLINGTON, New Zealand) -- New Zealand’s capital Wellington was struck by a 6.5 magnitude earthquake Sunday.

Nobody was reported as having been killed or seriously injured during the earthquake, which lasted a full minute, but the shaking did do some structural damage. Trains were stopped, and even Wellington's parliament building was damaged.

“Quite a decent sort of a kick,” Wellington Police Inspector Marty Parker said, describing the quake. “In fact I've been living in Wellington for a couple of decades and that's probably been one of the best ones, the bigger ones I've felt.”

Numerous utilities were impacted by the earthquake. Parker said it smashed windows, broke water mains and downed telephone and cable lines, leaving large areas without power.

The lack of power has the potential to be a problem, as July is the middle of winter for New Zealand. Luckily, Parker told ABC News that for now temperatures are manageable.

“Normally we get a very cold, southerly winds coming through about this time of year,” he said. “We've just got over a bit of a bad patch and so far, again touch wood, we've got pretty good weather.”

It could have been worse. In 2011, New Zealand was hit by a 6.3 magnitude quake centered near Christ Church that killed 185 people.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


‘Human Chain’ Saves New Zealand Boy from Drowning

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NAPIER, New Zealand) -- A 12-year-old New Zealand boy who was swept out to sea by rough waters was rescued by beachgoers after they formed a human chain to pull the boy back to the shore.

Josh McQuiod had been playing with a friend along the water’s edge on Marine Parade in Napier, New Zealand, on Sunday when he was whisked out to sea, according to One News in New Zealand.

McQuiod was dragged nearly 500 feet along the beach and fought eight long minutes for air against the pounding surf.

“The waves smashed me so much, there were five really big ones, they flipped me around quite a few times,” McQuiod told One News.  “I think the longest for about 20 seconds.”

Constable Paul Bailey of the Napier Police was the first one into the water to attempt to rescue McQuiod, but he had a difficult time holding on to him.

“A few times under the waves I was thinking, ‘Have I done the right thing charging in here?  Is it going to be two bodies they’re looking for,'” Bailey told One News.

Another police officer instructed others to form a human chain from the shoreline into the water to bring McQuiod and Bailey to safety.

McQuiod was unresponsive when he was brought back to shore.  Once again, his rescuers stepped up and helped revive him before he was taken to a local hospital.

The dramatic video captured during the rescue shows more than a dozen people holding hands from the beach into the whitecap waves to bring the two to safety.

“I’d love to thank them so much for what they did.  They saved my life.  If it wasn’t for them I’d be dead,” McQuiod told One News.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Witnesses Describe Rare, Deadly New Zealand Shark Attack

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(AUCKLAND, New Zealand) -- A New Zealand fisherman was one of many witnesses to a rare, deadly shark attack Wednesday on a man swimming 200 yards offshore, west of Auckland.

“He just shouted out ‘shark,’ and the next minute we saw him rolling around,” Pio Mose, the fisherman who saw the attack, said.  “There was blood everywhere on the water.  First, there was one shark, but then after five or six minutes there were three sharks all over him, rolling him around.”

Mose said the victim raised his head as the first shark attacked him, and Mose and others onshore shouted to the victim.

“We yelled out at him to swim over to the rocks, and he raised his hand up,” Mose said.  “The next minute he went down, the shark pulled him down.”

Rescue teams raced into the water in a desperate attempt to reach the swimmer.  Tim Jago of the Life Saving Club said that when his team found the body, the sharks were still there.

“The police managed to distract the shark while we extracted the person from the water,” Russell Clarke of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Paramedic team said.

Police in boats took aim at the shark.

“My guy took a firearm, discharged his firearm at the shark,” said New Zealand Police Inspector Shawn Rutene.  “We do not know if he hit the shark, but the shark rolled and disappeared.”

But it was too late.  The victim, a man in his 40s, who has not been named, was dead.  Rutene said that the man’s family was very upset and distraught.

Witnesses said the shark was huge.  Experts who screened footage said the shark may have been more than 10 feet long.

“I think it’s most likely to have been a great white shark in this instance,” Craig Thorburn, a marine biologist, said. “In reality, the only sharks around New Zealand that ever really take on prey items as big as a person would be a great white.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


World’s Rarest Whale Found on New Zealand Beach

iStockphoto/Thinkstock (file photo)(NEW YORK) -- It is safe to call spade-toothed beaked whales the world’s rarest whale species -- so rare that when a mother and calf became stranded and died on a New Zealand beach in 2010, scientists did not believe they had anything unusual.

Now, after doing DNA typing and further investigation, they report Tuesday in the journal Current Biology that the two were spade-toothed beaked whales, a species never actually seen by scientists before.

"This is the first time a spade-toothed beaked whale has been seen as a complete specimen, and we were lucky enough to find two of them,” said lead scientist Rochelle Constantine at the University of Auckland in a statement to accompany the paper.  

"Up until now, all we have known about the spade-toothed beaked whale was from three partial skulls collected from New Zealand and Chile over a 140-year period,” said Constantine.  “It is remarkable that we know almost nothing about such a large mammal.”

The mother and her 11-foot-long male calf were buried in the sand after they were found, and tissue samples were sent to the university as a matter of routine.  Six months later, Constantine and a colleague, Kirsten Thompson, finally got around to doing a DNA test and found they had something that had never before been tested.

Spade-toothed beaked whales are thought, like other species, to dive deep for food, living mostly off squid in the southern Pacific.  But biologists concede they are speculating based on the behavior of similar whales.  

Members of this species have never been seen or examined in any detail before.  The two carcasses have been dug up for further study.  Why they beached themselves is a mystery, say the scientists.

“Based on the scarcity of records and the total absence of previous sightings, this species is the least known species of whale and one of the world’s rarest living mammals,” write Constantine and her colleagues in their report in Current Biology.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Zealand Skydiver Survives Plunge

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A skydiver survived plunging to the ground Thursday afternoon after his parachute failed to open at the Motueka Airport on the South Island of New Zealand.

Detective John Nicholls of the Motueka Police said in a statement: “About 750 feet above the ground his reserve chute deployed automatically. It slowed his descent, however he landed heavily and sustained as yet unknown injuries.”

Authorities have not yet released the 35-year-old skydiver’s name, but according to police, he was airlifted to Nelson Hospital with multiple injuries, including to his back.

Website reports eyewitness Kim Eschweiler saw the man come “down fast and hit the ground full blast.”

“We were told his injuries are not life-threatening,” Skydive Abel Tasman owner Stuart Bean told

Bean said the man was an experienced skydiver, completing more than 1,000 jumps.

A Nelson Hospital spokeswoman reports the skydiver remains there in a stable condition.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Zealand Officials: Pole-Dancing Prostitutes Wrecking Road Signs

Antenna Audio, Inc./Getty Images(AUCKLAND, New Zealand) -- Officials in Auckland, New Zealand, are crying foul at the city's prostitutes who, it's claimed, are bending road signs out of shape by advertising their wares with al fresco pole-dancing demos.

More than 40 poles have been damaged in the shady area known as Hunter's Corner at significant cost to the city, the U.K. Telegraph reports.

"Prostitutes use these street sign poles as dancing poles," said Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board member Donna Lee.  "The poles are part of their soliciting equipment and they often snap them.  Some of the prostitutes are big, strong people."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


6.2-Magnitude Quake Shakes New Zealand's North Island

Antenna Audio, Inc./Getty Images(WELLINGTON, New Zealand) -- A 6.2-magnitude earthquake rattled the western coast of New Zealand's North Island on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The agency said the tremor struck 35 miles south southwest of Opunake and had a depth 146.7 miles.  The quake was originally recorded as having a magnitude of 7.0, but was later downgraded.

So far, there have been no reports of injuries or damage.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


3 Boston University Students Killed In New Zealand Crash

(NEW YORK) -- Three Boston University students who were studying in New Zealand were killed Saturday when their minivan crashed near the vacation town of Taupo on the country’s North Island.

Police said two identical minivans carrying students were just minutes from their destination when one van drifted left going around a bend. After the wheels touched gravel, the driver over-corrected, causing the van to roll.

The dead were identified as Daniela Lekho ’13, Roch Jauberty ’14 and Austin Brashears ’13.

Five other students riding in the van were injured and one was described as critical.

Kevin Taylor, a police official, speculated some of the students were not wearing seat belts because they were thrown from the vehicle.  The students had been en route to Tongariro Crossing, one of New Zealand’s most famous hiking sites.

“This is a horrible tragedy,” said Robert Brown, president of Boston University. “Our prayers go out the students and their families. We will do all we can to provide comfort and assistance to those who have been injured, and to the families and friends of the victims.”

The university’s New Zealand program, which is based in Auckland, has 50 students and integrates academic study with professional internships.

None of the passengers in the second van were injured.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


11 Dead in Hot Air Balloon Crash in New Zealand

File photo. (Marty Melville/Getty Images)(CARTERTON, New Zealand) -- All eleven people onboard a hot air balloon were reportedly killed when it crashed outside a fairground near Carterton, New Zealand, early Saturday morning, local time.

A witness said he saw flames coming from the basket as the balloon plummeted to the ground. "It came down like a bloody rocket and then there was a big bang,'' said David McKinlay, according to the New Zealand Herald.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the fire and subsequent crash.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Time Travel: Samoa and Tokelau to Move a Day Ahead

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(APIA, Samoa) -- Samoa and Tokelau have decided to take the day off, but not in the traditional sense. The tiny Pacific nations will be moving to the other side of the international dateline at midnight Thursday night, jumping 24 hours ahead in time and eliminating Dec. 30 from their calendars this year.

The move is largely an attempt to streamline business dealings with neighboring Pacific nations such as Australia, New Zealand and China. "In doing business with New Zealand and Australia, we’re losing out on two working days a week,” Samoan Prime Minister Tuila’epa Sailele Malielegaoi said in a statement. “While it’s Friday here, it’s Saturday in New Zealand, and when we’re at church on Sunday, they’re already conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane.”

Samoa has been on the Eastern side of the dateline since 1892 when U.S. traders persuaded local Samoan authorities to align the country’s time with nearby U.S.-controlled American Samoa and the U.S. to assist their trading with California. But given today’s trade patterns, the government no longer feels this makes sense.

Tokelau’s parliament, the Tokelau General Fono, recently voted to go ahead with the change as well. The Ulu or Chief of Tokelau endorsed the decision, telling Radio New Zealand international that he hopes “that the people will go to sleep on Thursday night and wake up the next day, Saturday, the 31st of December, without any huge changes.”

The Samoan government has announced that although many will be missing a day of work as a result of  the move ahead, anyone who was scheduled to work Friday will still receive a full day’s pay.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio