Inside the Red Zone: 25 Devastating Government Photos of the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake

Inside the Red Zone: 25 Devastating Government Photos of the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake

On February 22, 2011, New Zealand’s second-most populous city of Christchurch was hit with a devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake, essentially leveling this lively city. Two years later, it still finds itself in a massive state of repair.

New Zealand lies directly on a number of fault lines, many of which run directly under major cities, like Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington. Unfortunately, Christchurch has been the stage for a series of earthquakes and aftershocks over the years, like the 7.3 magnitude that struck on September 4, 2010. The one in February, though, put New Zealand in a state of national emergency, as it was the second largest natural disaster to ever hit the country.

As someone who called New Zealand my home for well over a year, I send my deepest condolences to all those affected by the Christchurch earthquake. It was, and is, a horrific tragedy.

Kia kaha.

Disclaimer: These photos were taken by government officials. I received express permission to publish them.

Fitzgerald Ave. Feb 23, 2011.
Fitzgerald Ave. Feb 23, 2011.
Central City - Cashel Mall - Rescue. Feb 22, 2011.
Central City – Cashel Mall – Rescue. Feb 22, 2011.
Aerial image of Wainoni Avon Loop Rowing Club. Feb 27, 2011.
Aerial image of Wainoni Avon Loop Rowing Club. Feb 27, 2011.
Central City - Madras St - Gloucester St - Charlie B's Backpackers. Feb 27, 2011.
Central City – Madras St – Gloucester St – Charlie B’s Backpackers. Feb 27, 2011.
Central City - 241 Gloucester St - Hotel Stonehurst (Backpackers). Feb 27, 2011.
Central City – 241 Gloucester St – Hotel Stonehurst (Backpackers). Feb 27, 2011.
North New Brighton - Marine Parade - Residential Building Damage. Feb 23, 2011.
North New Brighton – Marine Parade – Residential Building Damage. Feb 23, 2011.
Dallington - River Rd. Feb 23, 2011.
Dallington – River Rd. Feb 23, 2011.
Aranui - Road Damage. Feb 23, 2011.
Aranui – Road Damage. Feb 23, 2011.
Central City - Kilmore St - Caledonian Hall. Feb 23, 2011.
Central City – Kilmore St – Caledonian Hall. Feb 23, 2011.
Smiths City Car Park - Dundas - Colombo St.
Smiths City Car Park – Dundas – Colombo St.
St Pauls Church. 236 Cashel Street
St Paul’s Church. 236 Cashel Street.
Central City - Manchester St - High St. Feb 22, 2011.
Central City – Manchester St – High St. Feb 22, 2011.
Central City - Cambridge Tce - PGC Building. Feb 23, 2011.
Central City – Cambridge Tce – PGC Building. Feb 23, 2011.
Central City - Barbadoes St - Catholic Basillica. Feb 23, 2011.
Central City – Barbadoes St – Catholic Basillica. Feb 23, 2011.
Bexley - Liquefaction - Flooding - Pages Rd - ANZAC Dr. Feb 22, 2011.
Bexley – Liquefaction – Flooding – Pages Rd – ANZAC Dr. Feb 22, 2011.
Aranui - Road Damage. Feb 22, 2011.
Aranui – Road Damage. Feb 22, 2011.
Central City - Colombo St - Tuam St To Mollett St - Leopard Bus. Feb 22, 2011.
Central City – Colombo St – Tuam St To Mollett St – Leopard Bus. Feb 22, 2011.
Central City - Colombo St - Kilmore St. Feb 22, 2011.
Central City – Colombo St – Kilmore St. Feb 22, 2011.
Central City - CBD Skyline Moments After Quake. Feb 22, 2011.
Central City – CBD Skyline Moments After Quake. Feb 22, 2011.
Central City - Cathedral Square - Anglican Cathedral - Rescue. Feb 22, 2011.
Central City – Cathedral Square – Anglican Cathedral – Rescue. Feb 22, 2011.
3rd Mar - Central City - Lichfield St - Manchest St To Poplar Lane #02 - Internal
3rd Mar – Central City – Lichfield St – Manchest St To Poplar Lane #02 – Internal
Central City - Aerial (2 Hrs Post Quake) - Manchester St - Worcester St - Iconic, The Civic. Feb 22, 2011.
Central City – Aerial (2 Hrs Post Quake) – Manchester St – Worcester St – Iconic, The Civic. Feb 22, 2011.
Central City - Aerial (2 Hrs Post Quake) - Cambridge Tce - PGC. Feb 22, 2011.
Central City – Aerial (2 Hrs Post Quake) – Cambridge Tce – PGC. Feb 22, 2011.
Avonside - Avonside Dr - Holy Trinity Church. March 10, 2011.
Avonside – Avonside Dr – Holy Trinity Church. March 10, 2011.
Central City - Cambridge Tce - PGC Building. Feb 22, 2011.
Central City – Cambridge Tce – PGC Building. Feb 22, 2011.

To help rebuild Christchurch, you can donate to the New Zealand Red Cross.


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  1. Hi Jeremy, Have you any name for the Photo of the lateral spread along River Rd. titled “Dallington River Rd. ” It is the best example I can find for my thesis on damage in the Red Zone. thanks my email is here

  2. Great collection of photos that really show the damage!
    I flew in there the day after the quake because I was working for an Aussie TV station at the time and it was really unnerving to see all the destruction and feel the constant aftershocks!

    1. Thanks, Turtle! I can’t imagine being there in the wake of the destruction, never mind the day after the quake! Would have been quite a scene…

    1. It really is. It wasn’t until I was going through all these photos that the magnitude of the devastation actually hit me.

  3. wow, great collection of photos Jeremy.

    it’s only when you see those images, do you realise how epic and event it was. i was there in january and even then, some of the buildings looked a sorry state. it feels like the city hasn’t even recovered by now too.

    1. That was my reaction, too, Andonis. Having never visited Christchurch, it didn’t occur to me what a damaged city would actually look like. These photos really put things into perspective for me.

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