Crowds out as Christchurch cordons go down
Blue skies and removed cordons brought Cantabrians back into central Christchurch for a stroll today.
The cordons around the last of the central city red zone were removed on Friday and for the first time since February 22, 2011, barring a few open days, people were able to walk across Cathedral Square.
"It's very emotional seeing the square again," said Alison Beaumont, who came up from Queenstown to visit her
Christchurch-based daughter Amanda Colmore-Williams. "It's a lot more devastating [to see the Christ Church Cathedral] close up."
The cathedral remained fenced off, with containers blocking one side and fencing around the rest of it. Grass had grown long around the stones and the spires which had been removed after the quakes.
"You can see why people are really wanting to keep it," said Colmore-Williams. "It's pretty significant. If they can keep it, they should. It's an emotional place. It's what people of Christchurch consider to be the heart of Christchurch."
German students Haike Baesler and Hannes Saense said it was "amazing" to walk in Cathedral Square for the first time since arriving in February this year.
"We have come in each time they have opened something," said Baesler. "That's about once every two weeks."
It was really exciting to see the city opening up during their stay, she said.
Kaiapoi man Darrin Harper decided to make a day of it with his family. "It's nice to be back in the centre," he said.
"It's good to see things happening and cranes and construction coming along.
"Generally it's a good feeling to be back, but it's certainly sad looking at the cathedral."
The Defence Force members who had manned the cordons since February 2011 will be officially farewelled by Prime Minister John Key today.