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South Pacific Pounded by Earthquakes and a Cyclone

The South Pacific has been a hive of natural activity recently, with multiple earthquakes and a Category 5 cyclone keeping island nations on alert for damaging winds, rains and tsunamis.

The earthquakes occurred along the Kermadec Fault, which runs to the east of New Zealand and continues north to the Kermadec Islands, approximately 500-620 miles northeast of New Zealand’s North Island. According to, two earthquakes registering 7.3 and 7.4 occurred off the coast of Gisborne, New Zealand, resulting in a warning for people to move quickly to higher ground. A third and larger quake, with a magnitude of 8.1, occurred within eight hours of the first two and prompted additional tsunami warnings for several Pacific localities, including Hawaii. But according to, the region experienced a magnitude 5.6 earthquake just four days later.

Earthquakes on map
This map, which is continuously updated, shows earthquakes that have occurred in the South Pacific in the last day or so alone.
© 2021 USGS

And as for the cyclone — or hurricane in our local language — Cyclone Niran impacted New Caledonia on the morning of March 7. The New Zealand Herald reported winds of up to 220km (136 miles) per hour. We received a note from Bay Area sailor Andy Kurtz (currently in Fiji), who told us there were gusts of up to 110 knots in the harbor in Noumea and that “lots of boats sank ….

“My friend was on her boat in Noumea; fortunately she and her boat survived.”

This image shows the path Cyclone Niran took on her way to New Caledonia.
© 2021 Zoom Earth

The Herald reported that several ships had been forced aground on the coast, but that apart from widespread power outages and roofs being torn off, “no major damage was recorded following the cyclone, the intensity of which was a little lower than expected.” AccuWeather reported Niran as being equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

From all reports it sounds as if the South Pacific has been having a rough time lately, and we urge all cruisers to be on alert and keep up to date with current weather reports. Stay safe out there!


  1. Mark Anderson 3 years ago

    An apocalypse is a disclosure or revelation of great knowledge. In religious concepts an apocalypse usually discloses something very important that was hidden or provides what Bart Ehrman has termed, “A vision of heavenly secrets that can make sense of earthly realities” THAT WORD HAS BEEN HIJACKED.

  2. Noel Farmer 3 years ago

    Captain Olaf thought he clearly said reef not shred.

    • Monica Grant 3 years ago

      Hi Noel, we guess your comment was meant for the Caption Contest(!)?

  3. Andy Kurtz 3 years ago

    I wish I was in Fiji… unfortunately I think that part got messed up in my message. I’m in the bay area nose to the grindstone, my boat is in Hawaii enjoying the sunshine… for another month or two… then who knows… I should be in Fiji but Covid messed up that plan

  4. Rod Tye 3 years ago

    Damn those kiwis are fast on that AC 75

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