Christchurch family 'utterly devastated' their home is ash
John Gordon noticed the peak of his family's home was missing before turning a corner to see almost everything he owned burnt to the ground.
The Early Valley Rd homeowner said he had no idea their house was destroyed by the wildfires on the Christchurch Port Hills until he drove up to the property on Tuesday morning.
"It should be part of the rule book, that you get acknowledged your house is gone."
"We heard on the news that one of the houses had gone, but we didn't think it was ours. We went up there completely thinking our house was intact and good, totally unaware that our house was flattened."
Gordon said on Monday evening the family of five had managed to move eight of his treasured classic cars to higher ground before they were choppered off the hills.
"We couldn't sleep that night, so we went back and one of the fire guys took Lucy and Elvis [the family's dogs] down. They would have been getting pretty smoky by that point."
After they pulled up to the ruined 55 acre property on Tuesday morning, Gordon said "no... it can't be, it can't be."
John and Margaret Gordon, and their three children Billy, 20, Rosie, 18, and Jesse,16, were staying at a two bedroom flat with donated mattresses on Wednesday.
Through tears, Margaret Gordon said she was "utterly devastated" to have lost treasured heirlooms from her late mother.
"I had her jewellery, bits of her china, and a pair of my grandma and grandad's china horses"
Margaret Gordon said there had been nothing left to salvage from the pile of ash.
On the way out, Billy had grabbed some of his mother's pencil drawings and Rosie picked up a picture of her parents' wedding.
"I thought, what should I grab, but we thought we were going back, we never thought for a minute that we weren't coming back".
"Even when we went up in the helicopter we thought we were sweet", Billy said.
He had taken one last photo of the home he grew up in, "just in case".
"We got our heads round it and thought, well, what are going to do now? We're just trying to take one step at a time and work out where we go from here."
At least 40 of the families classic cars, including a much loved Mark 1 Zephyr brought over from Australia, were gone and it was likely 12,000 pine trees at the back of the property had gone up in the flames.
"I don't know if I'm more upset about my cars or my house, but it breaks my head up so it's probably good"
Their pet duck, Donald, and four cats had also not been seen.
"Unfortunately there was a stuff up with our insurance before the earthquakes that we didn't realise so we weren't on the books anymore and only had contents insurance. I should have made a fuss then ... and then this happened", Gordon said.