Friday, January 13, 2012

Red Zone Dust Bowl, New Brighton

Sat 14.01.12. Hot, gusty afternoon. Dust bowl hell. I wandered a circuit of red zone roads: Wattle Dr, Willryan Ave, Terrelle St, Sandy Ave.

Those roads were between Travis Rd, near Travis Wetland & New Brighton Rd, near Avon River. During the last 16 months, 10 000 quakes had liquefactioned the roads & trashed many houses.

As the hot nor'wester gusted, gritty, liquefaction silt postponed my desire for a Burwood wander. Never mind people still living in quake-messed homes, in liquefactioned streets. Cars driving by caused clouds of dust. Not a City Care water tanker, nor contractor water tanker in sight, to lay dust in New Brighton dust bowl.

Ground surface, annoying liquefaction mud & dust paradox was formed from different depths of liquefaction mud & different evaporation times, hence irritating, windblown dust. Dry, gritty liquefaction soil wasn't clean like beach sand, as there was no antibiotic sea salt. Ground surface, liquefaction mud & dust was a mix of ancient alluvial soil & suburban waste-water crap, from quake-trashed sewage pipes, water pipes & drains.

Over the last 16 quake months, the number of bacterial spores I'd imbibed from liquefaction mud & dust must've boosted my immune system. No ill effects so far. I had still to discover any long term effects of liquefaction dust? Pity red zoners who had to live with liquefaction mud & dust for months.

CERA Landcheck website gave land status as follows:

Willryan Ave: 89 properties, 5 red zone, 84 green zone. I only wandered the red zone section.
Terrelle St: 27 properties, all red zone.
Sandy Ave: 7 properties, 3 red zone, 4 green zone.
Wattle Dr: 50 properties, 26 red zone, 24 green zone.

Red zone land was too expensive / difficult to fix & property owners had to leave. Why were red zone homes built on swampland in the first place? In the eastern suburbs, there was much quake destroyed land & homes build on shifting sands. Pre quakes, I bet there many Council workers, surveyors, developers, architects, engineers, contractors & lawyers who gave inadequate warnings about liquefaction prone land throughout Christchurch.

I parked my car on Wattle Dr, near quake ravaged houses, sinking into mud, gardens overgrown. Near New Brighton Rd, most Wattle Dr houses were abandoned. Beyond Freeville School, the closer I got to Travis Rd, there were more green zone houses along Wattle Dr.

7 images, Wattle Dr:

14.01.12. Liquefactioned Wattle Dr, post 23.12.11 quake swarm

Willryan Ave: Roadside, green portaloo & plastic, sewage tank. I passed more liquefactioned houses, passed a fallen WORKS END THANK YOU sign, passed a FOOTPATH CLOSED sign, to red zone Terrelle St.

10 images, Willryan Ave:

14.01.12. Liquefactioned cnr Wattle Dr / Willryan Ave, post 23.12.11 quake swarm

14.01.12. Portaloo & liquefactioned Willryan Ave, post 23.12.11 quake swarm

Terrelle St: A muddy, dusty mess. Roadside portaloos & plastic sewage tanks. Houses were abandoned, gardens were overgrown. House demolition site: there were 4 abandoned sofas amongst weeds & two huge, liquefaction boils. A yellow car was smothered by weeds in a front yard. Two unfriendly men scuttled in & out of their muddy, dusty gardens, suspicious of me. I'd be annoyed too, if I had to endure their strife.

27 images, Terrelle St:

14.01.12. Liquefactioned Terrelle St, post 23.12.11 quake swarm

Sandy Ave: Freeville School looked OK. A couple of quake messed houses.

4 images, Sandy Ave:

14.01.12. Abandoned house, Sandy Ave, post 23.12.11 quake swarm

Wattle Dr: I didn't bother to walk up Wattle Dr to Travis Rd, as I was sweaty & gritty with liquefaction dust. Towards Travis Rd, there was less liquefaction & less housing damage.

39 images, Wattle Dr:

14.01.12. Quake collapsed garage, Wattle Dr, post 23.12.11 quake swarm

Wattle Dr / Sandy Ave junction: Sandy sink hole, cordoned by orange, plastic, road cones on the pavement, blocking entry to a liquefactioned driveway.

14.01.12. Liquefactioned Wattle Dr, post 23.12.11 quake swarm

I wandered down Wattle Dr back to my car, past quake trashed, red zone houses, some tilted into mud, gardens overgrown, pavements covered in silt. Sink holes & deep mud in driveways & on pavements. I passed Atlantis St, which I'd wandered days ago, a big sink hole, cordoned by  orange, plastic, road cones & a fence at the junction.

14.01.12. Liquefactioned Wattle Dr, post 23.12.11 quake swarm

Sun 15.01.12. 2.47 am, mag 5.0 quake, 9 km depth, 10 km E of Christchurch (GeoNet). Rumbled by & woke us up.

*Wandered Wattle Dr, Willryan Ave, Terrelle St, Sandy Ave.


Near the end of 2012, the Ministry Of Education caused strife by wanting to close & merge several Christchurch schools without consultation. The MOE used quakes as the excuse. Freeville School was slated for merging with North New Brighton School. Crazy mergers caused public protests. So much for recovery.

Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.


  1. Wandering in belatedly to say my kids go to Freeville School and so I know these streets really well. It's so horrible seeing them like this and I feel for all the people I know who live in and with this :(

    On another note, the school looks okay but has had one unsafe building demolished already and will likely have another one too (the one you can see from Sandy Ave). On the plus side it's a great school and is still going strong despite the building problems, and with new ones replacing those we've lost :D

    1. Thanks r. Good to hear the school's still going strong, despite setbacks. Hope it thrives after the rebuild.

    2. This is all horribly ironic now. Freeville school is still going strong, still an excellent school providing an excellent education, but unfortunately the MoE have decreed it will be lost in a merger. Lots of grief in the area now.

  2. Sad that Freeville School has to merge with North New Brighton School & that the MoE also merged Central New Brighton School with South Brighton School, thus reducing local schools from 4 to 2. The MoE was more destructive than the quakes.