(Fanciest bus in town for the Red Zone Tour!)
Red Zone Tours have started so we booked online and headed along to see just what the fuss was about – is it worth paying $15 per person to see our own city.
Our tour started just as the fog that had hidden the battered city centre since morning started to lift. While chilly on the bus till the end, the low cloud cover diffused the direct sunlight allowing a panoramic view on all sides of the bus uninterrupted by any dazzling sunlight.
(Back of the bus is an ad for the tour!)
We arrived at the advised 10 minutes before departure only to find that all the higher seats at the back of the bus had already been taken. We sat in the middle belly section of the bus but still found the view to be fine. The bus was obviously the Red Bus Company’s newest addition - swank but the yellow swoosh window coverings at the front and back of the bus did obscure the view outside a bit.
(Traveling down Salisbury St. (seen from the Motel))
There was the obligatory safety talk about remaining seated and to follow the instructions of the staff in case an emergency evacuation was necessary. After going on the first Red Zone bus tour several months ago I knew they were realistic warnings as the bus was indeed to pass right beside many buildings that are on the demolition list.
(Passing very close to protective containers...)
The commentary was a live presentation by a representative of the Canterbury Museum which added credence to the narrative. How participants appreciate the information will depend on just who they were. Myself, living just 1 block from the Red Zone barrier, and having seen a lot since the quakes really wanted more. More stories, more statistics, more anything….more than what I already knew. But for someone from the outer suburbs who had avoided the Central City area since the quakes or even a traveler from outside of Christchurch or even from overseas may have found the scenes from the bus windows and the commentary an absolutely mind boggling gooble of over information that left them numb at the end of the 40 minutes.
There was a graphic presentation using past & present photos etc. playing on the screen at the front of the bus but the screen was a bit too small even from ½ way down the bus. But, I would also say that what with concentrating on the commentary and looking out the window I did not find myself looking at the screen too much so maybe it is just right the way it is.
(Looking west from Cathedral Square)
Our tour was 40 minutes long and of that we would have spent only about ½ in the actual Red Zone. But this did not subtract from the Tour and if anything gave an overview as areas of interest outside of the Red Zone were also introduced during the tour. We even drove right past the Motel down Salisbury St. and photographed the next tour for effect!
(Red Zone bus passes a top quality Motel)
Some have dismissed these tours because most of the Red Zone can now be seen from outside the fence due to the various cordon reductions but taking the bus tour does allow close up and personal glimpses of parts of central Christchurch no-one without a Red Zone pass has seen with their own eyes for a very long time. It also allows a close up view of places we walked of right pre 22 Feb.
(View from the bus window.)
For the visitor from outside of Christchurch or outside of New Zealand, it gives them a chance to see what happened and is still happening in our everyday lives. It helps them learn about Christchurch now and we need these people to take our story, Christchurch’s story back home with them so that the world can develop an understanding of what has happened to our beautiful city.
(Christ Church Cathedral - the pigeons love it!)
After the tour, we visited the Earthquake Exhibit in the Canterbury Museum which we thoroughly recommend to all visitors to Christchurch – especially those that choose to take the Red Zone Bus Tour.
As mentioned in our previous blogs, we will be offering our Red Zone Bus Tour Special.
At CentrePoint on Colombo Motel, we will pay up to $10 each for up to 2 persons per room for direct reservation guests who stay with us on Fri, Sat or Sun nights until the end of August 2012 and take the Red Zone Bus Tour – and you get to stay just 1 block from the edge of the Red Zone northern boundary. *Subject to terms & conditions.