By Jessica Rowe
It has been a day of emotional reflection for Christchurch as the public were allowed back into their damaged city for the first time since the February earthquake.
Special bus trips around the red zone have begun operating, giving residents a chance to see the damage first-hand.
It was a tearful scene as Christchurch residents stepped off the bus, after seeing for the first time what is left of their battered city.
The 30 minute CERA bus tour takes people from Cranmer Square on a clockwise loop around the central city, stopping outside the PGC building site, the CTV site, and finally at the heart of the city in Cathedral Square.
The tour highlights the vacant lots and scale of demolition work undertaken over the last nine months.
CERA’s Roger Sutton says it is important for Cantabrians to see the devastation first hand.
“I think most people are very surprised seeing the level of damage and destruction we have in there. So I think it is very important for the healing process.”
So far the tours, which run for six weeks, have been popular with the public, with more than 7000 bookings already.
A thousand people have taken the tour today, and another 2000 are expected tomorrow.
CERA says there has been an overwhelming response, as people attempt to re-acquaint themselves with what remains of their broken city.