Some hitches with reopening of Christchurch cordon

8:48 pm on 7 March 2011

Civil Defence says there were frustrations related to reopening sectors of central Christchurch on Sunday for the first time since the 22 February earthquake.

The central business district has been divided into four green zones and one red zone. Green zones one and two were opened from 8am on Sunday for people to assess damage to their properties. The public were allowed to enter from 2pm.

Civil Defence director of planning, Bayden Ewart, says he understands some people had to be returned to the information centres to get their entitlement to enter the zone checked and they were then able to enter.

Mr Ewart also understands some people tried to get into the red zone but were turned away.

He says there is a balance between safety and security on the one hand and enabling access on the other; and Civil Defence did not get the balance right on Sunday and will do a better job on Monday.

Mr Ewart says people who are not residents or do not work in the zone one and two areas to stay away.

A number of people told Radio New Zealand that it was necessary to come and see the damage for themselves, while a number of long-term residents said they still cannot believe what has happened to their city.

Pam Harrison was picking up her niece's belongings from a flat in a yellow-stickered older building in Montreal Street. She said it was a "terrible mess" and there was "stuff everywhere" in the second-storey flat. Ms Harrison told Morning Report she had brought in a trailer to take away a bed and other items, and had only had to wait half an hour at the checkpoint.

Zone one, in the south-west, is bounded by Rolleston Avenue, Durham Street, Moorhouse Avenue and Armagh Street.

Zone two, in the south-east, is bounded by Fitzgerald Avenue, Moorhouse Avenue, Barbadoes Street and Oxford Terrace.

Zones three and four, in the north of the inner city, will be opened during the coming week.

Access to the red zone in the city centre will continue to be restricted to the emergency services.

Police say they will not tolerate rubber neckers and "disaster tourists" trying to see the devastation will not be welcome.

Hospital cordoned

A cordon was reinstated near Christchurch Hospital on Sunday afternoon because of road subsidence and instability.

Civil Defence says the cordon is a small section of Oxford Terrace between Antigua Street and Riccarton Avenue.

It says Riccarton Avenue, Hagley Avenue, Tuam and Antigua streets remain open.