Canterbury earthquakes 2010-2011

Where can I find information about the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011?

Senior Secondary

(Years 11-13)

Colour photo of Colombo Street in Sydenham, Christchurch after it was damaged by an earthquake in 2010. It shows damaged storefronts and bricks fallen on the street.

Image: Christchurch earthquake by Gabriel Pollard on Flickr.

Entry last updated: 14/04/22


At 4:35 am on 4 September 2010, an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter Scale shook Christchurch west, in the Canterbury region causing damage to houses and property. Around six months later, at 12:51 pm on 22 February 2011, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit south-east of Christchurch. Despite being smaller on the Richter Scale, this second earthquake caused widespread damage and loss of lives. There have been thousands of aftershocks in Canterbury since the 2010 earthquake.

Facts and pictures

These sites give a useful starting point for finding out about the Canterbury earthquakes. There is also information about the economic, environmental and social impacts of the two major quakes that hit the region.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

Christchurch City Libraries - Ngā Kete Wānanga o Ōtautahi

Christchurch City Libraries, a network of public libraries in the Canterbury region has an introduction with some facts about the earthquakes. They also put together a useful page of links and contacts for people in the earthquake affected areas.

  • Find a page called Events under the Explore tab.
  • Scroll down the page of Local history events to Deaths and disasters to the link Christchurch and Canterbury earthquakes.
  • You will find links to primary sources, like pictures and media coverage, and some history of earthquakes in Christchurch.
  • The Earthquake recovery information links you to agencies and organisations that provide information and assistance for earthquake recovery, repair, rebuild and earthquake insurances.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.


NZHistory is a great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

Tips: Copy and paste the 'cite' information for your reference list - this shows where you got your information from and that it is from a reliable source.

Stories and videos

The Canterbury earthquakes affected many people, and different people had different experiences. These sites have stories and videos so you can hear and see what it was like when the earthquakes happened.


In 2021 the QuakeStories site was archived and moved to Quakestudies, run by the University of Canterbury. This site gave a place for people to tell their earthquake stories. It started after the Canterbury earthquakes, but in 2016 the Ministry for Culture and Heritage expanded it to include other quake stories from New Zealand.

  • Go to Browse and look through the list for QuakeStories.
  • Here you will find first-hand stories of the Christchurch earthquakes and how it has affected peoples' lives.
  • Select QuakeStories Photographs to see quake pictures.


DigitalNZ is a search site that focuses on New Zealand history. It’s an easy way of searching online resources from New Zealand libraries, museums, universities and government sites all at once, and has lots of primary sources.

  • Enter the search words 'Christchurch earthquakes'.
  • You can browse the information by selecting the tabs, like videos.
  • Go to More to access newspapers, articles, data and research papers.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

Science and monitoring

Here are some websites that are New Zealand based. They cover factors such as fault lines, monitoring earthquakes, recent quakes and aftershocks in the area.


Established in 2001, the GeoNet project is a result of the partnership between the Earthquake Commission (EQC), GNS Science, and Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) to operate a modern geological hazard monitoring system in New Zealand.

The tab Earthquake has some useful links.

  • Stories has information on the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.
  • Forecasts tells you about the aftershocks in Canterbury what is expected in the coming months.
  • Browse through Videos to find footage by GNS scientists and videos on the Christchurch earthquakes.
  • We recommend you explore Intensity, FAQ, Gallery etc to broaden your understanding of earthquakes in general and how they are measured in New Zealand.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website. It will tell you why GeoNet is especially needed in New Zealand, how it all began and the work they do.

GNS Science - Te Pū Ao

GNS Science works with GeoNet to understand the natural systems and process that take place in the earth and its impact in terms of economic, environmental and social benefits for New Zealand.

  • Go to Our Science then Natural Hazards and Risks.
  • Next choose Recent Events.
  • Select Canterbury Earthquakes 2010 - 2012 for information on fault lines, videos, aftershock map, audio and video information on the earthquakes.
  • Remember to explore the links like:
    • Canterbury earthquake images
    • Darfield earthquake
    • Rapid response seismic team responds and
    • Eqsensors on the same page.

The tab News and Events on the home page has a link to Media Releases and Globe Magazine that has articles on the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

On this site you can also find information about earthquakes in general:

  • Plate tectonics under Our Science to understand the movement of the Australian Plate and the Pacific Plate and the history of this impact on New Zealand.
  • Earthquakes under Natural Hazards is about understanding, monitoring and planning for earthquakes.
  • Earthquakes under Learning explains what and why earthquakes happen.

Tips: The website has .nz in the URL which means that the information here is New Zealand based. The About Us tells you more about the history of GNS Science, its purpose, research and services.

Emergency Management Canterbury

The Canterbury Civil Defense Emergency Management Group (CDEM) in partnership with local authorities and emergency organisations ensures effective delivery of emergency management plans in Canterbury.

  • Go to the Menu and under Canterbury CDEM select Resources.
  • Check out Civil Defence emergency Management Group Plan to view the 4 R's (risk reduction, readiness, response and recovery) that form the basis for comprehensive risk management in New Zealand.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

Maps and data

These New Zealand based websites have statistics, maps and data on the two major earthquakes in the Canterbury region and the aftershocks experienced since then.

Canterbury Quake Live

This website is an up-to-the-hour record of earthquakes in the Canterbury region. The information found here is thanks to GeoNet, GNS Science and NIWA.

  • The tabs lead you to information on depth of earthquakes, magnitude of earthquakes, maps and locations of the most recent earthquakes in Canterbury.
  • Note that there is a link at the top of the page to records of earthquakes from around New Zealand.

Tips: The website has .nz in the URL which tells us that the information is about New Zealand. It does not have an About us link but we can rely on the information as it comes from reliable sources such as GeoNet, GNS Science and NIWA.

Environment Canterbury Regional Council - Kaunihera Taiao ki Waitaha

The Canterbury Regional Council works with local communities to manage the use of the local resources. This is where people can find guidelines and legislation to help them make informed and legal decisions about sustainable development.

  • Search this website for material on earthquakes by using a simple search 'Canterbury earthquakes'.
  • Click on the link called Earthquakes to browse through information on faults, liquefaction and earthquake hazard reports.
  • We recommend you browse through links such as liquefaction, earthquake faults etc to explore how these concepts relate to the Canterbury earthquakes.

Tips: This website is an example of an accessible website, which means it takes into account a range of different users. Their priority is clear content, structure and ease of navigation.

Christchurch Quake Map

Developed by Paul Nicholls, this website plots earthquake data from GeoNet using Google Maps.

  • The Home page has links to animated maps of the four big quakes in 2010 and 2011, largest 25 quakes, most recent quakes, quakes today and the past week and other links worth exploring.
  • Move your cursor over quake data in the right-hand column to see the location on the map. You can also click on the data to zoom to the location.
  • FAQ /Help has some questions on the map answered. It also has some useful tips on how to use the map.

Tips: Click on the About link to learn more about aim of this website. How to use the Map on this same page explains how to the use and understand the maps.


The websites below have been selected because they have reliable, in-depth articles about the Christchurch earthquakes.

New Zealand Geographic Archive

This is one of the EPIC resources. EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. You may need a password from your school or local library to access it.

This online version of the magazine New Zealand Geographic has an archived collection of stories, video, photography and audio on New Zealand news, environment, history, geography, disasters etc.

  • You can search for information on your topic by using keywords such as 'Canterbury earthquakes' or 'Christchurch earthquakes'.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, e.g [topic word]. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre

Another EPIC resource, this site allows you to search newspaper and magazine articles focusing on New Zealand and Australian publications.

  • Use search terms like 'Canterbury earthquakes' or 'Christchurch earthquakes' to bring up relevant information.
  • Use Search Options to narrow down your results to publication, images, full text, etc.
  • You could also choose to search using the Subjects, Publication and Images/Video tabs found at the top of the page.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6 pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

University of Canterbury - Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha

Situated in Christchurch, this is New Zealand's second oldest university. You will find some useful articles, eBooks, maps, and research papers on the Canterbury earthquakes that you can read online.

  • Go to Library from the top of the page.
  • Enter 'Canterbury earthquakes' or similar keywords in the search box.
  • Under Refine your search select Full text Online to view the documents that can be read online.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us


This resource is published by the Ministry of Education and includes articles that are useful for New Zealand school students.

  • Enter the keyword 'earthquake' into the search bar to view articles related to the Canterbury earthquakes.
  • Select an article e.g Learning from the Christchurch Earthquakes.
  • Select Google slides to view the article.


There are many books written about the Canterbury earthquakes - check out your public library or school library to see what they have.

Some recommended titles are:

SCIS no: 1832461

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