Roads and rail links are likely to be damaged for a week or longer after a large earthquake in the Wellington region.
For the 80,000 people that commute into Wellington City every day, the only way home will be on foot.
We saw something similar play out in 2013 when a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck near Seddon at 2.31pm on a Friday.
After the earthquake, Wellington commuters found themselves stuck. They were unable to get home via their normal mode of transport as the airport and train lines were closed for inspection, with no bus replacements for hours.
Many stayed with friends in the city or put their walking shoes on to make the journey home on foot. A community response kicked in and people offered rides to those who were stranded.
We were lucky in this earthquake – the roads and rail links were not damaged. In a larger earthquake, these transport links are likely to be damaged for a week or longer.
To raise awareness of this, Wellington city-based commuters are invited to take part in the ‘Long Walk Home’ – a long-distance walking challenge, organised by the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO).
The walk will take place at 1pm, on Friday 1st of March 2024 from Sky Stadium. It will finish around 7pm in Ngati Toa Domain, Mana, Porirua.
The walk is a total distance of 30 kilometres and participants can walk as far as they are comfortable. There are multiple checkpoints along the route where people can decide to stop if they are close to home or have had enough.
A celebratory BBQ will be held at the Ngati Toa Domain Hall after the event.
WREMO Community Resilience and Recovery Manager Dan Neely says it’s important for commuters and workplaces in the city to get involved.
“There are a lot of benefits to participating in the Long Walk Home. Taking part raises awareness that many people will have no choice but to walk home after a large earthquake in the region.
“We want people to think about their emergency plans and keep essential walking supplies at work, such as comfy shoes, warm clothes, snacks, and water. Participating in the Long Walk Home helps people learn how to be more prepared, mentally, and physically,” says Neely.
The event is not a race. It’s a shared challenge where participants are encouraged to get to know one another, support each other and have fun.
The event is open to people of all ages and abilities, with most people taking between 5 and 6 hours to complete the walk.
Neely says for workplaces that get involved and support their staff, they will be contributing to their own business continuity, as well as playing a key role in building our region’s resilience.
“Well-prepared staff, who can get home safely, are in a much stronger position to return to work once they have checked on their families.”
To find out more about the Long Walk Home, view the route and register, go to wremo.nz/longwalkhome.