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Port Hills Mansions, Christchurch (New Zealand) - November 2014

WildBoyz

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This report looks at some of the abandoned cliff top mansions on the outskirts of Christchurch. The damage to the mansions themselves during the 2011 earthquakes was significant to say the least, and as the cliff itself collapsed it took many of the buildings with it. Although demolition has begun, against the protests and campaigns of those who own them, the majority of the stricken homes remain, posed precariously over the side of the cliff. It is estimated that hundreds of million dollar mansions will be demolished in the coming months (330 alone in the red zone), however progress is often stalled due to bad weather which causes the land in the area to become more unstable; concerns are tied in with the knowledge that water can seep into the myriad of cracks found within the cliff which initiates substantial ground weakening. Construction workers reported that it took more than eighteen months to devise a safe demolition plan, and ground conditions are continually monitored. Alarms have been placed in the key demolition areas, and they are triggered by unusual ground movement and instability. Initially, the use of explosives were considered, but those plans were quickly disregarded for fear of bringing the whole cliff down onto the buildings and roads that lie within close proximity beneath it. Since then ‘unmanned’ drones have been used to assess the structural damage of every structure, to calculate whether human demolition crews can enter each property.

Once unspoiled and seamless, offering picturesque views as they overlook Sumner Beach, the mansions now stand cracked and broken. Pools and terraces sit empty, and only vacant chairs remain; taking in those spectacular views alone as they look out to sea. The first to be successfully dismantled was a six bedroom property, formerly valued at $2.28 million – re-evaluated to be worth less than a dollar. Although it was reported that the houses had been entirely cleaned out, it is at this stage worth mentioning that many people were in fact unable to reclaim their belongings and alongside full fridges sit the remains of people’s lives. Many people were forced to flee for their lives and were unable to grab their possessions as they left. Being conscious of this, I have tried to limit the photographs to reveal fewer personal items and effects, to give viewers a taste of the destruction rather than entirely invade other people’s privacy.

Our Version of Events

As for our little escapade; having aggravated the church royally on our last quest, we decided to leave the city for a short while, and worked our way towards the outskirts to seek out the fabled lost mansions of the Port Hills area. Now, despite the fact that they’re on top of an enormous cliff that towers above the city, we spent a good while struggling to find them; not sure what happened there. After much searching, we eventually found ourselves at the bottom, near an entire abandoned school which is directly underneath (they still mow the lawn and maintain it however), staring up in awe at bits of mansion poking out over the edges of the cliff – the next challenge though was to find our way to the top. The roads leading up to the Port Hills mansions are narrow and winding, and it is easy to mistake entire side roads for driveways. This is what we did for the next hour or so, as we became more confused in the maze of carnage (we wanted to get to the uppermost buildings which were situated at the highest point, so we passed many damaged structures). In the end we ditched the car and continued on foot, sneaking past the folks whose houses were somehow unaffected, until we finally reached what we were looking for.

The damaged was far greater than I expected; although looking back I’m not exactly sure why I imagined it to be any less that what it was. These were some of the worst affected buildings I’ve seen in Christchurch. Staircases were dislodged, entire walls teetering – held together by a few crumbling fragments – and rooms completely distorted and buckled as we walked across their floors. Many of the mansions have ‘no-go’ lines drawn across at certain points, indicating which part of the building is slanting over the edge of the cliff. There’s not very much to stop a curious person stepping over those lines however, even with the knowledge that you will face imminent death if the structure did decided to topple over the side. Pushing those thoughts aside, guided instead by an awesome curiousity, we managed to explore several of the mansions and small gardens. Still, I should hasten to add that curiousity is a dangerous phenomenon, and sometimes you can overstep the mark; we did this by peering into an old chest freezer in a garage. I lost a few sensors in my nose after that one.

Explored with Nillskill.

1: Private pool and terrace



2: Extensive structural damage



3: Poolside chair



4: Kitchen contents



5: The lost bedroom



6: Decaying toys



7: Former bedroom



8: Bathroom (toilet roll rack - nothing better than being prepared!)



9: Living room mirror



10: Someone left the dog behind



11: Fireplace



12: Store cupboard in the garage



13: Mansion exterior



14: Mock European style mansion



15: Crumbling walls



16: Main hallway



17: Looking down the corridor



18: Dining room and kitchen



19: The kitchen



20: Looking into the living room



21: View from the living room



22: The patio - positioned over the cliff



23: The cliff - suddenly a lot closer



24: A broken kitchen



25: Tentative steps



26: The main street



27: Broken letter box



28: Someone's former living room



29: Patio door barely clinging onto life



30: A studio style bedroom



 
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WildBoyz

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31: The studio



32: Drum kit



33: The jacuzzi



34: The last trooper



 

skeleton key

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You have a fetish for earth quaked damaged buildings :shock: hahaha

Love it (y)

:comp

 
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WildBoyz

WildBoyz

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You have a fetish for earth quaked damaged buildings :shock: hahahaLove it (y)

:comp
Haha. Ideal for exploring (y)

 

mookster

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That's crazy, the kitchen especially. I can imagine it being pretty nervy in some areas with walls leaning all over the place.

 
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WildBoyz

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Just a small bit of movement there, sure it'll be fine for a few more days :eek: (y)
The creaking floors and bits of wall were a little disconcerting :eek:

 
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WildBoyz

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That's crazy, the kitchen especially. I can imagine it being pretty nervy in some areas with walls leaning all over the place.
A little, yeah. Especially since some of the houses are built out over the cliff edge.

 
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WildBoyz

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Wow!! That is some damage! Those cracks in the brickwork are a bit dodgy
The whole estate is a bit surreal. Never seen anything like it before.

 

Andy

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At first I thought: built not very stable. But of course, an earthquake is one reason for the condition. Interesting Set!

 
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WildBoyz

WildBoyz

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At first I thought: built not very stable. But of course, an earthquake is one reason for the condition. Interesting Set!
Cheers man. Yeah, very strange wandering around the estate. Very quiet.

 
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