Pilot Richie McCaw helps out after the earthquake

Pics 15/11/2016

All Black legend Richie McCaw has put his helicopter flying skills to use on Monday, helping out in the wake of a 7.5 magnitude quake that happened overnight.


The two-time World Cup-winning former captain has been ferrying Urban Search and Rescue and NZ Fire Service members into trouble spots and looking for people in trouble, as well as lifting the spirits of some people affected.


"We went to see a family who were cut off by a bridge that was taken out by one of the rivers, just to say 'gidday'. They were pretty happy to see us pop in," says McCaw.


"I popped into Waiau, which is pretty much cut off from things. There were a few kids from the school at the Civil Defence spot. Said 'gidday' to a few kids, which was quite cool."


McCaw, who was born in Oamaru and lives in Christchurch, was shaken awake from the tremors along with countless other New Zealanders.


"Woke us up at midnight or whenever it was. It was a pretty scary reminder of the years gone by and all we've had to experience here," says McCaw, who lived through the devastating 2010 and 2011 quakes.


From the air, McCaw says he saw a great deal of damage, especially to roads.


"I think the Kaikoura township is actually okay, but the roads in from both directions have slips and stuff all over the place. I'm no expert but it's going to take a while to shift all that rubble, to even get cars in or out, trucks or whatever. It's going to be pretty isolated for a while," he says.


"The things that stick out are the roads, just how wrecked they are. I wasn't close enough to see much of the damaged houses. Just the sheer size of dirt, rock and that that's come down, railways pushed way out, it's pretty amazing. North of Kaikoura, you can see the seabed has probably come up half a metre; it's pretty noticeable. That shows you the power of the thing."


The recently retired All Black captain appreciates being able to help out, but would rather he didn't have to.


"It's nice to be able to fly, but in these sorts of circumstances you wish you didn't have to. I'm just thankful I'm able to lend a hand."