Monday, February 15, 2016

Earth Surfing, Valentines Day Quake

Sun 14.02.16, Christchurch. 5.7 mag quake, depth 15 km, 15 km E of Christchurch, 1.13 pm (GeoNet). Resurrection of the Pegasus Bay Fault which had been quiet since the 23.12.11 quake swarm.

Leah & I were in Timaru at the time, 162 km S of Christchurch, having lunch at a Pak n Save cafe. Leah felt the quake. I didn't. She was right. On our return to Fairlie we checked out GeoNet & texted our sons who text replied as follows:

Luke, Berwick St rental: "Big! Biggest one I've felt in a very long time. Very jolty, rolled on for quite a while. Lots of aftershocks since." Luke had done quake salvage work the last couple of years, dangerous work in an active quake zone.

Jake, Cassels Brewery, Garlands Rd: "I'm totally fine. House etc & friends all good. No worries:) When the quake hit it just so happened that all of us 6 chefs were congregated all in the same area of the kitchen when stuff got a bit wobbly. I instinctively took my earth surfing stance & had my 23 cm knife pointing outwards from me, gripped in my right hand:) Luckily no one else was standing too close to me. Ha Ha."

Jakes "earth surfing" was apt, if one wasn't diving for cover, or rushing for a door frame, for protection. As seismic waves rolled underfoot, with bent knees & arms akimbo, it was like a wave battering. I'd once described to an Oamaru friend that surviving a big quake was like being bashed at the bottom of rugby scrum, or being dumped by a huge wave. Absolutely no control.

I updated my Facebook status letting family & friend know we were all OK. Several Like responses & compassionate comments from family & friends. No troll comments.

Over the next few days, TV1 & The Press reported there were no fatalities, but there were rock falls at Godley Head, Whitewash Head, Sumner's Richmond Hill & Peacocks Gallop. There were reports of liquefaction at Kairaki Beach & Parklands roads were liquefactioned again, with sink holes & sewage leaks: Bower Ave, Broadhaven Ave, Courtfield Cl, Hurst Pl, Linkwater Way. I'd seen those Parkland roads badly liquefactioned post 23.12.11 quake swarm.

Christ Church Cathedral's west facade crumbled more, despite the so-called, steel, "Battering Ram" buttressing the facade.

EQC was accepting claims for the Valentines Day Quake. Given EQC's ineptitude over the last 5 years with shoddy repairs, 1 000s of repairs & claims still unresolved & insurers still waiting for EQC to decide on over cap $100 000 properties for previous quakes, some Valentines Day quake claimants could wait another 5 years for their claims to be resolved by EQC & insurers.

Sun 21.02.16. A Cathedral Sq protest protested about EQC & insurer delays in resolving claims. Deja vu the 08.08.12 protest I'd attended at Clarence St & Princess St, protesting EQC & insurer delays. The revolting thing about the latest protest was that 5 years post 22.02.11 quake, 4 500 repair / rebuild claims were still unresolved & 5 500 repairs on EQC / Fletcher shoddy repairs claims were unresolved. What were PM Key, CERA minister Brownlee, CERA minions, Human Rights Commissioner & others slagging off Cantabrians doing about EQC's & insurers' slackness?

Sat-Sun 27-28.02.16. Was in Christchurch for Leah's teaching business & to visit our sons. On Sat I wandered Christchurch's CBD. Lots of rebuild, Cashel Mall: The Terrace, with new steps on Avon River bank; BNZ; ANZ; a huge parking garage behind The Crossing on Lichfield St; Justice & Emergency Services Precinct going up, between Lichfield St & Tuam St. All those new bldgs had sturdy steel frames. Quake survivor Pagoda House, Colombo St was dwarfed by BNZ & ANZ. Rebuilds darkened Cashel Mall again, forming a W-E wind funnel from Bridge of Remembrance.

Not Funny: 5 bldgs red sticker cordoned (27.02.16) by Council on New Regent St, as dangerous after 5 years of quakes. Council only woke up to the danger after the Valentines Day quake. Par for the Council, like Council libraries closed for repairs long after quakes - South Library, Fendalton Library, Bishopdale Library...

Christ Church Cathedral ruin: Still fenced cordoned after 5 years of neglect. Cracks had widened on all exterior walls. Many loose Oamaru whitestones, cladded corners, buttresses, window arches. Heritage fanatics wanted to restore the rubble walled ruin. I wandered ruined Christ Church Cathedral border, coolpixing weedy neglect, widened cracks, loose stones & protest slogans, chalked on flagstones, curbs & boards on abandoned Millennium Hotel (Distinction Hotel). Next door, abandoned BNZ part demolition was covered in graffiti. (Sept 2018. BNZ had been completely demolished & a new Spark bldg, busy construction site with steel frame was going up.) What a mess CERA had left Cathedral Sq after its 5 year occupation.

Cathedral Sq, chalked protest slogans:

JACK + PACK [Shoddy jack & pack, foundation repairs by Fletchers contractors].

VULNERABLE [To flooding & liquefaction according to EQC assessments].

         CLOWNS [Fletchers, Crown company did shoddy post quake repairs to 1 000s of houses].

THE FLAG OR THE PEOPLE [PM Key's $26m flag referendum].







STILL WAITING [Tower, a Crown insurance company delayed many payouts].




Fun things: Margaret Mahy Family Playground, many kids enjoying themselves. Parents lolling below poplars on Avon River bank. No shade over the playground, yet.

Oxford Tce: 5 years post quakes, below abandoned Rydges Hotel, Our City, abandoned, scaffolded, fence cordoned. Ditto quake trashed Provincial Council bldgs on opp Avon River Bank.

Cnr Hereford St / Cambridge Tce: New car park garage going up on Central Police implosion site.

Durham St Nth: Glass & steel, office block rebuilds loomed above quake trashed, Provincial Council bldg.

NZ National govt's Blueprint Convention Centre: 5 years post quakes, no rebuild yet. Just a vast, cordon fenced, dusty demolition site between Victoria Sq / Cathedral Sq & Colombo St / Oxford Tce. (Sept 2018. Convention Centre steel frame going up).

After 3 years' cordon closure, Gloucester St Bridge was being restored by SCIRT. I wrote in a SCIRT suggestion booklet, hung on a cordon fence: 5 YEARS! TOO SLOW!

Cnr Durham St Nth / Kilmore St: Gap Filler activities, like food trailers, Commons sports, dancing, band playing, by the Wooden Arches on Crowne Plaza Hotel demolition site near Town Hall restoration. At Last!

Year of the Monkey, Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival, Hagley Park. 1 000s of viewers. CERA's last year of Christchurch occupation. CERA had morphed into a troupe of Regeneration Christchurch monkeys, organ grinded by National MPs Key & Brownlee. Another 5 years!

Mon 29.02.16. Leap Year Day quake, 3.32 am, 4.3 mag, 5 km depth, 5 km S of Christchurch. (GeoNet). Port Hills fault again. We'd returned to Fairlie. But our sons awoke to strong jolts. There were so many known & unknown, crustal faults in & around Christchurch, when one ruptured, another soon ruptured, different faults rupturing for the Valentines Day & Leap Year Day aftershocks. Cracks on the ancient Port Hills volcano still flexed.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Submarine faulting beneath Pegasus Bay (NIWA).

See EQC has about 5500 shoddily repaired homes to fix (The Press / Stuff Co).

See Christchurch quake Still waiting for repairs 5 years on (The Press / Stuff Co).

See Hundreds protest outstanding EQC & insurance claims in Cathedral Square (The Press / Stuff Co).

See PM John Key's opinion of Christchurch's recovery (The Press / Stuff Co).

See A city of two halves new quake reignites old battles (The Press / Stuff Co).

See New Regent St owner agrees to engineering inspections (The Press / Stuff Co).

See Quake claimant to fellow IAG customers clog the system (The Press / Stuff Co).

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Catlins Coast Letter

10.02.16. A letter to our sons:

Hope your trip to Nelson & beyond went OK Luke & that everything's OK at Cassels Brewery Jake. I didn't feel Tuesday's mag 5.7 Kaikoura quake, too far south. Did you?

Leah's now back into her second week's teaching at Lake Tekapo & I've climbed Mt John 4x since her return, to get hill-walking fit again. I climbed once with Leah last weekend & the other 3x mingled with tourists, mainly Chinese. Nice sunny February weather. I'm hoping to find 2 DOC huts up Lake Tekapo on Mt Gerald Station & do more Mt Hay Station tramps this summer. Hopefully Leah will start Monday evening, yoga classes at Lake Tekapo, so I'll have looooong Mondays for my walks. As it's high tourist season, thousands of tourists pass through Lake Tekapo daily, with overcrowding at the camp site & public toilets. And rubbish discarded on the shore too. The new pedestrian bridge to the Church of the Good Shepherd is a good wander.

Our Catlins Coast trip we did in the last week of Leah's Xmas holidays:

Day 1: Drove Fairlie to Dunedin & stayed at Leith Valley camp site, in wooden chalet rooms. That weekend Dunedin had a vintage car rally, so the camp site was full of vintage campers & vintage cars too. Wandered Dunedin Botanic Gdns & student rental streets near University of Otago. We saw those streets on TV when students' booze up shenanigans hit the news. Some rentals have odd names above doors. Wandered varsity grounds too, Bought Thai takeaways near the camp site.

Day 2: Drove Dunedin to Balclutha to Kaka Point on Catlins Coast. Lunch at rainy Balclutha. Drove beside wide Balclutha River a bit to Kaka Point with great views of the bay where Balclutha River meets the Pacific. Drove a dirt road to Nugget Point & walked a DOC track to the light house with views of a seal colony on rocks below & Nuggets / stacks scattered in the sea beyond the light house. Looking southwards from Nugget Point I counted 4 headlands & bays.

Catlins Coast consists of a series of rugged headlands & bays with hilly farmlands behind, where the tarred road sidles the headlands. We drove dirt roads to reach the coast.

We had blue cod, chips & salad supper at the only bar / restaurant in Kaka Point. A sandy beach walk settled our food. We slept at a B & B near the restaurant.

Day 3: Busy. Drove southwards to Surat Bay, a few cribs at Newhaven & more cribs at Pounawea across the bay. Great views of Surat Bay from Pounawea camp site.

Drove to Owaka with its new aluminium, waka sculpture. Saw Owaka Museum & its history of Catlins Coast shipwrecks. Saw an Owaka house with hundreds of teapots in the garden.

Drove to Purakaunui Bay: Sheep on the dirt road, two seals on the beach & DOC campers nearby. The tall cliffs by the bay are worth the side trip. A good surfing bay.

Drove southwards: Walked to Purakaunui Falls, Drove further south & walked to Matai Falls & Horseshoe Falls above. Walked a bit of the Rail Trail through a rocky, bushy cutting.

A Rail Trail information board read:

"The building of the Catlins River Railway line between Balclutha and Tahakopa was started in 1879 and completed in 1915. It closed in 1971. The line was of great significance for the 19th and 20th century settlement of the Catlins, as it provided reliable transport for people, timber, farm produce and supplies before roads and road transport improved.

'In common with many early branch lines it was very tortuous, with deep cuttings. Because of the nature of the country many steep grades were encountered.' (Russel Glendenning - legendary local railway man).

The 1 in 40 average grade of this section of the line was one of the steepest in the South Island railway system and the fully laden trains struggled to keep going uphill when the rails were slippery."

Further south we enjoyed views of Tautuku Bay & Peninsula from Florence Hill Lookout: Waves rolled in from the Antarctic, a bushy sandy beach below.

Drove through coastal bush & stopped at Papatowai for a windy, beach walk & coffee at the Lost Gypsy Gallery, a hippy bus filled with funny gadgets for sale.

Drove south through native bush & walked to Lake Wilkie, a glacial, kettlehole lake, in native bush. A farmer wearing gum boots, was worried about a drunken worker, lost in the bush. We told him we'd seen the drunkard, waving a beer bottle, wandering way back on the main road. The farmer drove off to find him.

Didn't see Cathedral Caves - closed for the day.

Drove south through more native bush & walked to McClean Falls.

Drove south through coastal bus to Waikawa where we settled into a two bed room house opposite Waikawa Museum.

Early evening we drove to Curio Bay to see the fossil forest at low tide: There were many lengths of petrified wood on a tidal rock platform. I slipped on kelp while coolpixing. Like at Lake Tekapo, there were many tourists along Catlins Coast. Leah chatted to a Chartres Frenchman cyclist, who'd already cycled Australia & was now doing NZ. Leah told him we'd visited Chartres Cathedral during our 1981 Eurrail trip.

A bronze plaque on the roadside near the fossil forest read:

                                                   "CURIO BAY FOSSIL FOREST

This forest grew in the Jurassic period. About 160 000 000 years ago. In a semi-tropical climate and consisted of trees like the kauri and lesser trees such as cycads and conifers. As well as fern like plants. Grasses & flowering plants had not yet come into existence.

The forest occupied the low swampy coast of a land that once extended south from this point. The coast continued north-west from this area across northern southland. And most of the rest of NZ was beneath the sea.

The forest was killed suddenly by being buried under a flood of ash from a volcanic eruption on the ancient land. And the ash now forms the hard sandstone beds in the cliff edges. Long after the ancient land disappeared and present NZ emerged. These sandstone strata were cut back by action of the sea. To reveal the broken logs and stumps still in the original position of growth. The present rock shelf around the stumps is the original floor of the Jurassic forest.

Known fossil forests of this age are very few throughout the world. And this the most varied and remarkable of them all.

This forest is absolutely protected and it is an offence to damage or destroy it in any way, or to remove any souvenir from it."

Day 4: Returned to Fairlie via Catlins Coast again, Dunedin & stayed a night at a two bed room holiday home at Waikouaiti. Nice sandy beach there, a big hill, Cornish Head above the north end of the beach.

Our new Nikon Coolpix camera worked well, so we have pics to show. Lots of native bush & bird life along Catlins Coast, like spoonbills, gulls, pied stilts, oyster catchers, paradise shelducks, NZ pigeons...

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.