Aim - To explore the challenges for general practitioners (GPs) following the 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquakes and describe how these were met. Methods - Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with eight GPs from the Christchurch area exploring their experiences. Results - The interviews revealed that the GPs faced a range of challenges both in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes and in the following months. These included dealing with an increased and changed workload, and managing personal concerns. The GPs reflected on their coping behaviour and how their professional practice had changed as a result. Conclusions - All GPs reported significant increases in workload raising questions about the need for coordination of locum support. GPs often found themselves working outside their area of accustomed expertise especially in relation to patients needing financial aid. GPs identified a number of coping behaviours though some only in hindsight. Greater awareness of self-care strategies would benefit GPs responding to disasters.