Tom_Degun_in_ChristchurchI have been in New Zealand for less than a week but my stay in Christchurch has been nothing if not eventful.

Perhaps the incident that best sums up such a fact is the earthquakes I survived just three days ago.

The first measured a substantial 5.1 which, while not devastating, "can cause major damage to poorly constructed buildings."

It was 6.03am local time when the occurrence interrupted my hard-earned sleep and for the first few seconds, I thought I was just having a very bizarre dream.

However, I quickly realised that this was far from the case when the rumbling knocked me onto the hotel floor. My laptop, carefully positioned on a nearby table, as well as other items I had set around the room, also began falling to the floor in a highly unsettling half-a-minute.

I can only accurately describe the earth, literally shaking, as highly unsettling and my mind flashed through the limited earthquake advice I may or may have not come across in my relatively short 23-years.

Hide under the bed; find a high place to take refuge, run outside.

Before I could select one of the rather unappealing options, the shaking stopped as quickly as it had begun.

Later that morning, I encountered two more earthquakes measuring 3.4 and 4.0 but they felt like next to nothing compared to my first, daunting experience.

Anyway, after shaking off my self-pity, I carried on with the serious business of covering the 2011 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships with my next stop being the Opening Ceremony.

Rather than taking place at the 20,000 capacity QE II Stadium, where the athletics is taking place, a bright spark in the Organising Committee decided that the Opening Ceremony take place in the beautiful Cathedral Square; the heart of Christchurch.

The setting allowed the public, innocently roaming the city, to view proceeding close up at no cost and also feel like an integral a part of the charming spectacle.

Maori dances, including the famous Haka, were the key theme in the distinctively Kiwi event which saw all the competing nations march into Cathedral Square to a rapturous reception.

From the stage, VIP speeches came from Paralympics New Zealand chief executive Fiona Pickering, IPC vice president Greg Hartung and none other than the New Zealand Prime Minister himself John Key.

Following the enjoyable event, I headed towards a local plush hotel, laptop in hand, to write up my report on the event when I suddenly came across the same group of VIP's that had spoken to the assembled crowds moments before.

In the centre was the New Zealand Prime Minister and despite a number of security guards surrounding him, he appeared bizarrely accessible.

Not wanting to cause too much trouble, I asked one the security guards if a picture with the Prime Minister would be a possibility.

"Just go and ask him mate," was the surprising response I got.

Acting on the advice, I tapped the Prime Minister on the shoulder and asked him just that.

"Yeah no worries mate," he said. "Where do you want stand?"

As the flash went off, a grin spread across my face as I wondered how different this procedure might be from getting a picture taken with the likes of Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron or America's President Barack Obama.

Tom_Degun_with_New_Zealand_PM_Christchurch_21_2011Unlike those two, John Key appeared to be someone you could simply just go out for a beer with!

He said he hoped I enjoyed the Championships, which got underway the very next morning.

Unfortunately, the rain pelted down for the majority of day one and I have no doubt it played a role in keeping the crowds at a disappointingly low level.

Sporting events, particularly athletics, are so much more enjoyable to sit and watch when the sun is beaming down on the action.

In rare moments, this did happen and the QE II shone in all its glory.

However, these instances were few and far between and all involved will be praying for the recent heat wave in the area to quickly return.

It isn't something one often things about but the weather can actually be a crucial factor in how well major sporting events are perceived.

Looking ahead to London 2012, just think how much better the grand old city will look in the pictures beamed around the world baked in sun and under clear blue skies rather than in dark, damp and grey conditions.

As far as the action on the track goes, first class.

Seven world records fell and it was fascinating to watch the likes of Britain's David Weir and Switzerland's Marcel Hug going at it.

The speed at which they go around the track is breath-taking and watching athletes of their calibre compete on the track is the greatest advert Paralympic sport has.

If you get a chance to watch Paralympic sport in person, do it; you won't regret it.

My prediction for the rest of the Championships? More first class action and sheer hope that the bloody sun comes back.

Still I can't complain too much.

Rain, earthquakes and a chance meeting with the New Zealand Prime Minister.

It has been an interesting baptism of fire in New Zealand.

Tom Degun is a reporter for insideworldparasport and is currently in Christchurch covering the IPC Athletics World Championships