with Lyttleton in background
The revamped Christchurch Gondola will re-open this coming Monday (25th) after two years out of action.
It's been closed since the Feb. 2011 Canterbury EQ and has had $2m of work done to renovate it and also to deal with potential rockfalls.
Operations manager Mark Forster says the gondola itself received only minor damage in the quakes, but the big job has been to ensure it met new rockfall standards: "This is kind of a first for NZ as such for mitigation work. We spent quite a bit last year blowing up rocks and sending loose rocks down. The gondola is technically now safer than taking a 10-minute ride on a bus. That's what the requirement was for us to meet."
Refurbishments were needed at the gondola's top station after a broken sprinkler pipe flooded it with 60,000L of water in the Feb.2011 EQ. The station's now been modernised and facilities upgraded. There's a new cafe, but the restaurant has been removed. The function centre will now be the focus for evening entertainment.
The closure of the Summit Road (not due to re-open for at least five years) made the upgrade very difficult - contractors had to walk part of the way to the top, hauling their gear with them.
The 945m gondola ride lifts visitors almost 500m (1500 ft) above sea level. Unique 360 degree views of Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains and Lyttelton Harbour can be seen as you rise to the complex, on the crater rim of Christchurch's famous extinct volcano.
It's re-opening will be a welcome sign to both locals and tourists that Christchurch is returning to its "new normality"...