I visited a suburban red zone while in Christchurch, part of the “Avon Loop”. This is what it used to look like, according to Google maps:
The red dot marks Alloway Street. This was Google’s Streetview shot a few years ago, after the earthquake:
Here’s what it looks like now:
There are occasional houses left standing, but not many. Most of the views look like this:
The roads are a bit of a mess, lots of deep potholes to be avoided.
The puddle next to the white vehicle in that photo concealed an especially deep one. I watched a car crunch into it. “Good” said the friendly local resident with whom I was having an interesting conversation at the time. “They won’t be back”. He’s plagued by people nicking his stuff: hose connections, even his letterbox! Here he is, by the way, enjoying a beer in one of the few homes left in the red zone still inhabitable, with services such as power and sewage.
(A couple of days later I heard about an artist who had been collecting letterboxes from the red zone, planning to make an installation or some other work of art with them. Hope one of them wasn’t nicked from this guy!)
Within telephoto range of his front door the demolitions continue. (Vili, that’s the shot you took with the 300mm, thank you!)
and what’s left is usually bare ground.
You can see where the houses were, the section boundaries are still marked by trees and shrubbery. The local said families still came back, I guess visiting the grave of what had once been a family home. Like this one, shot from the street looking up their driveway:
What was there before? Again, Google shows us:
It’s difficult to convey from the ground the scale of what has happened here. Here are some clips of flyovers which give a better idea:
Drone footage shows quake-ravaged Christchurch suburb (The Press, 22 Mar 2015)
Drone flyover of Bexley (The Press, 31 Mar 2015)
A sobering experience, this was. But, as the optimistic local in the photo suggested “a great opportunity!”