South Island Quakes of the 1960s

New Zealand’s largest earthquakes during the 1960s struck in the South Island, and killed 3 people. Both quakes were magnitude 7 and they occurred on May 24th, eight years apart.

The first of the pair was the Fiordland earthquake of the 24th of May 1960. This magnitude 7.0 quake was centred just offshore near a sparsely populated area, but caused minor damage to goods and buildings in Wanaka.

The second large earthquake of the 1960s was the Inangahua earthquake of 24th May 1968. This 10km deep magnitude 7.1 event caused serious damage to roads, bridges, railway lines, houses, and underground services, and temporarily dammed the Buller River with a massive landslide.

The landscape was scarred with many major landslides, one of which caused two deaths. In all, the quake caused three deaths and fourteen reported injuries in this lightly populated area west of Murchison which experienced a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in 1929.

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