Friday, 30 March 2012

Earthquake aftermath ~ Sumner and Shag Rock in March 2012

For anyone at all familiar with the eastern hill suburbs of Christchurch the association with Shag Rock, Sumner beach and the cliffs that form their backdrop is inseparable.  The road to Sumner crosses the Causeway, then snakes around the bottom of the hills, and just before it reaches Sumner village it passes right next to the cliffs which face the beach and Shag Rock.

Sumner has long been a popular beach-side destination, so Shag Rock has been a vivid Christchurch landmark since its earliest years.  However, successive earthquakes have taken their toll and this famous rock has lost a lot of its height and now looks very different, so different in fact that it is now referred to as Shag Pile!

Here are some photos I took at the end of March.  As one comes around the bend from Moncks Bay it now looks like this:

Here it is from along Sumner beach looking towards Redcliffs.  That's Balmoral Hill in the background:

From close up it looks very like a heap of tumbled masonry:

That stretch of beach is overlooked by the cliffs at the back of Peacock's Gallop.  

I admired the painted canvases that cover a number of the shipping containers which guard road users from rockfall.  I would like to know the names of the artists so that I could credit them with their remarkable work.  Unfortunately road access to pedestrians along there is a no-no.

The protective barrier of double-height containers now extends right around the corner at the Sumner end of the cliff face which means that the road has had to be diverted out into the car park traditionally occupied by the ice cream vendor:

This has made that section of roadway narrow:

It's decidedly hazardous to cyclists as indicated by this sign: "Extreme care cyclists merging". 

At present there is no footpath at all as there is no room for one.  The disruption of roadways around the quake-torn city has led to some odd and hopefully unique signs.  The one below which is addressed to pedestrians reads: "Not suitable for pedestrians - please use beach", which is not going to be much good to many people, especially not mothers with pushchairs - or at high tide, or in bad weather, etc, etc!  Fortunately the bus service is good. 

The entrance to Sumner is flanked by a plethora of signs:

A rather quieter and much older sign welcoming visitors to Sumner reflects earlier and more orderly times:

A modestly sized monument nearby informs passers-by that Sumner has been in existence for a long time, since 1891 in fact:

The impressive garden of aloes and yuccas next to it continues to grow unperturbed:

Along in the shopping centre more gaps have opened up, notably the site of the old community centre next the library.  In its place a small park has suddenly sprung up, although why the tape surrounding it states 'Danger Keep Out' is puzzling - probably it was the only suitable tape available!

Although a lot of rock has come down or been de-stabilized, there is a lot that hasn't.  Some of what remains is surprising.  At the back of Heberden Avenue, the scene of some massive fallen rocks, others have remained rock solid.  Hmm, that turn of phrase doesn't really work any more!

Here is a closer view:  The local pigeon population loves it:

The Herculean human task of restoring order and infra-structure progresses gradually.  Nature, on the other hand, exerts itself much as it has always done, sending up hopeful shoots and extending growing tips from every available nook and cranny. 

I should think that these tiny plants, which are happily established in a broken area of footpath, will be safe for a while yet.  I think they're beautiful.

I'll write about the effect of the earthquakes on the Estuary separately.

My other articles about the earthquakes can be found via the page linked to below:

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