Watch: First people enter Christ Church Cathedral since 2011 earthquake

The Christ Church Cathedral Restoration (CCRL) has made the first human entry into the cathedral since the 2011 earthquake. Video/CCRL

The first humans to enter Christ Church Cathedral since search and rescue teams arrived after the 2011 earthquake have filmed their experience.

The highly controlled entry was made through the north side of the building by a Christ Church Cathedral restoration site manager and a senior engineer.

This first inspection was undertaken to verify any engineering or safety issues that need to be resolved before contractors can begin work inside the Nave to stabilize the existing columns.

Project director Keith Paterson said: “We were confident we were taking this crucial next step in the reintegration process.

The piano is covered in dust and rubble inside the cathedral.  Photo / Tom Cuthbert
The piano is covered in dust and rubble inside the cathedral. Photo / Tom Cuthbert

“This input allows us to plan and create a scope of work for the final stabilization phase. The installation of the external steel supports has sufficiently mitigated any risk of collapse. This is an important and exciting time for the phase Project and Stabilization Project, which is now approximately 90% complete.”

The workers only stayed inside for 10 minutes, which was enough time to properly assess the risks and investigate for further stabilization.

“We were very pleased with what we saw inside the cathedral. There were no surprises, and in fact some of the columns we inspected were in better condition than expected. We can now move forward with confidence and prepare the work plan for the next step in the project,” said Keith.

Prior to this human entry, Spot, the remote-controlled robot dog, drones, and remote-controlled excavator were the only technologies to enter the earthquake-damaged cathedral.

“Human access marks a huge goal for the project since reintegration began in May 2020, and has been a key focus for the project this year.

“The rapid completion of the internal cleaning of the remote-controlled excavator was an interim step towards allowing controlled human access.”

Martha J. Finley