Chunky | Goodness

An Everyday Commute Through Quake Town

To help give people outside of Christchurch an understanding of how widespread the effect of the Feb 22nd earthquake has been on Christchurch, I thought I’d take some photo’s of everything quake related that I see on my cycle commute from the eastern suburbs into town.

It’s now nearly 6 weeks on from the quake, but the images below will hopefully show how far we still have to go.

These are by no means the worst of the devastation, but they represent what the typical Christchurch resident will see on an average trip into town. I didn’t deviate from my normal route to take any of these shots.

Bowhill Road Fish and Chips

First up is our local chippy, about 100 metres from home. Thankfully, all the staff made it out unscathed.


This is a cell phone tower on wheels. There’s a generator inside, and some kind of wireless uplink to the main network.


The reason this temporary tower is in place, taken a few weeks before the rest of these photos.


In many places along the Avon river, the river banks have slumped or collapsed, in some cases several feet. With winter weather approaching, there seems to be a concerted effort to build up the banks to prevent flooding. This is the view west along the river from Wainoni bridge.


Whilst most of the city has regained a water supply, some still haven’t. On top of this, many peoples hot water systems require full mains pressure to work correctly, and full water pressure has not returned to a lot of places.

So there are several of these mobile showers available for residents around the city. This one is outside the Avonside Golf Course.


Drinking water for residents is available from large tanks in key locations. These seem to be getting very little use now as mains water returns to more and more homes.


The worst hit areas are designated ‘residents only’, because heavy traffic can cause further damage to already fragile houses. This notice is still in place from the September 2010 quake.


The beaches and rivers are still no-go areas for recreation, and here’s why. The city’s sewerage system is severely damaged. The pipe at the bottom of the shot is pumping raw you-know-what into the river, and is one of many sites along the river and on the beaches where this is happening.

The foot bridge in the background is also closed, as it contains a 66,000 volt electricity cable, status unknown.


Post demolition, this is what remains of the average single story house. Most of the houses that were badly damaged enough to warrant an immediate demolition like this would have borne a ‘red sticker’, an ‘absolutely no entry’ notice. If that was the case, the house would have been demolished with all of it’s contents still inside.


More shoring of the river banks. The river is still tidal at this point, and at high tide the water level is already close to bursting on an average day.


Some areas are still without mains power. Large generators like this one are keeping the lights on for those neighbourhoods. Our own street was on one of these for the first two weeks after the quake.

An ad hock community notice board has also popped up here.


I hadn’t even noticed this house, behind a high fence, until the day I took these photos and I was being more observant than usual. This place used to be two story, the lower floor has completely collapsed.


This place was a once grand 2 story residence that was fairly rough around the edges before the quake. It’s days are numbered now, a large digger is parked just out of shot ready to begin the demolition.


Demolition in progress. I happened to ride past these shops on the corner of Stanmore Road and Worcester Street at the moment they were pulling the roof off. Thankfully, as with a lot of the cities collapsed buildings, this row of shops were already off limits before the February quake due to damage sustained in September.


The edge of the city cordon. A very large area of the central city is still off limits to the public. Each entry point is manned by police and army personnel. This is the checkpoint on St Asaph and Barbadoes Streets.


One of the stranger factors of all the damage is exposure of the inside of peoples homes to the public gaze. Here’s someone’s previously private bathroom and toilet.


Trents Wholesalers warehouse. A goner.


Christchurch’s biggest headache, the Hotel Grand Chancellor. At 26 stories, it’s the cities second tallest building. As is blatantly obvious from this photo, it’s not well.

A few days after the quake, the collapsed corner of the hotel was temporarily supported with new concrete struts to allow Urban Search and Rescue to enter the building.

The hotel lies in the heart of the city, and until it is demolished it’s likely at least two blocks either side of it will remain off limits for everyone. How the building is to be demolished safely is still, as far as I’m aware, unknown.