Cars, a potted pine and overdue birthday present retrieved from inside quake cordons
Cars, a pine tree in a pot, and an overdue birthday present have been retrieved by Wellington residents who were briefly allowed to enter their cordoned-off buildings on Wednesday.
Some grabbed just a few of their most precious possessions, while others opted to get everything out while they could.
Teva Stewart retrieved a seventh birthday present for his son, which was left in his car in Lower Tory St car park.
He was considering repurposing it as a Christmas present.
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He got the car back too, despite it needing a jumpstart because the battery had died, so it was a "good result all round".
His was one of 33 work cars driven out of the car park behind the Reading cinema car park.
Urban Search and Rescue technicians were able to retrieve the cars once scaffolding on the Reading car park had come down, Paul Glennie, of Wellington City Council's recovery team, said.
Residents and business owners lined up on Tory St from early on Wednesday morning, with each given 20 minutes to collect whatever they could carry.
Each pair were accompanied by USAR crew.
In Collina Tce, behind the condemned 61 Molesworth St, newlyweds Janhavi Soni and Mitesh Joshi were given one hour to get everything out, and to say goodbye to their rented flat.
The decision to move out was a difficult one, they said. It was the first home they had together after getting married at the start of the year.
The couple were already planning to return to India for a trip but "after the earthquake it became quite certain", Soni said.
With the help of friends and council staff, they managed to grab everything, from a portable heater to pantry food, bedding and books.
Joy Yonson also had one hour to get into his Collina Tce flat.
He said he could not sleep the night before, trying to decide what to take from the flat.
In the end, he decided on clothing and food – but he also grabbed his plant, a canadian pine tree.
At least 200 residents were contacted by the city council on Monday to collect items from the Tory St apartments and Collina Tce.
Most residents and business already had a brief opportunity to collect items in the days after the earthquake, but it may be their first time they are back before the cordon is opened in the new year.