Red-zone fences come down
The end is nigh.
Onlookers in central Christchurch are watching as the last of the red-zone cordon is stripped away.
Fences around Christ Church Cathedral are being removed, allowing access into parts of the city not seen for nearly three years.
Since the start of this month, the final four cordon segments have been taken, one a week.
Deconstruction started on the final segment on Monday.
A Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) spokeswoman said section 4 of the red zone encompassed "the area between High St and the cathedral, the last of the four big reductions to go".
Streets in the central city would be open once the fences were gone, she said.
Building and demolition sites and traffic management for infrastructure roadworks mean some areas of the central business district will still be closed off.
All work to remove fences will be completed by 1pm on Sunday.
The lifting of the cordon will be marked by a ceremony on Sunday by Cera, at a time to be confirmed.
The New Zealand Defence Force will celebrate its withdrawal from the city centre on the same day.
Tourists and locals in the area this afternoon watched Defence Force staff removing their cordon stations.
Christchurch resident Brent Crisp said he had not been through the central city "for a long time".
He used to work in the ANZ building in Cathedral Square and was there for the February 2011 earthquake, but he struggled to get his bearings today.
"When you can't see the buildings you can't remember what was there," he said.
Susan Mitchell, from Sydney, arrived in Christchurch yesterday.
She was last in Christchurch in August and found it "quite depressing", but she had noticed a difference on this visit.
"Everyone is starting to get in the swing of things," she said.
Australian Sue O'Donnell, from the Hunter Valley, had not been in Christchurch since before the quakes.
She said she would like to see Christ Church Cathedral stabilised and "kept as it is as a reminder".