Wednesday, March 2, 2011

outdoor wednesday: Avon River


http://asoutherndaydreamer.blogspot.com


I posted this same photo of me and my sister in law Karen rowing on Avon River in Christchurch in 1978.

I read with interest about the experience of the punters on the river.

"My first thought was that I'd run aground," says Hocken. He soon realised, however, that the water level had rapidly decreased by about 30 centimetres due to the formation of waves that had split from the middle of the river and were moving towards each bank.

the shallow part of the river Campbell was punting on drained completely, and the punt carrying Campbell, four adults and two children came to an abrupt halt on the riverbed.

"Basically, the water just stopped flowing" says Campbell.

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While most people in the Christchurch CBD felt last Tuesday's tremor shake the earth below them, Edward Hocken and Timothy Campbell experienced the unusual effects of the quake while floating on water.

Both men are punters whose job it is to push the iconic Edwardian styled Christchurch punts along a central city section of the Avon River. Both were on the river punting at the time of the quake.

Seconds after the shaking began, the shallow part of the river Campbell was punting on drained completely, and the punt carrying Campbell, four adults and two children came to an abrupt halt on the riverbed.

"Basically, the water just stopped flowing" says Campbell.

26-year-old Campbell, who was only metres downstream from the Armagh Street bridge recalls watching the bridge "move impossibly" from side to side under the force of the quake, and says it is surprising that it is still standing.

Campbell and his passengers witnessed the partial collapse of Canterbury's historic Provincial Chambers further upstream from the bridge.

He describes the experience as "shocking and chaotic".

The shaking ceased and Campbell recalls a strange moment of total silence without the usual sound of flowing water.

"There was a distinct moment there when everything just sorta stopped," says Campbell.

This was followed by the sounds of screams and sirens. Then came the sound of gushing water as the river resumed its flow upstream, and water surged through fissures in the riverbed around Campbell's punt.

Campbell jumped off the punt into the swelling river and pushed it to the horse cleaning ramp on Victoria Square where his passengers disembarked and joined the gathering crowds.

Hocken, 18, was punting four German tourists between Victoria Square and the Christchurch Town Hall when he heard the "horrendous noise" that preceded the violent aftershock.

The punt came to a complete stop as it got stuck in the riverbed.

"My first thought was that I'd run aground," says Hocken. He soon realised, however, that the water level had rapidly decreased by about 30 centimetres due to the formation of waves that had split from the middle of the river and were moving towards each bank.

These waves bounced off the banks and came back towards the punt, causing it to rock violently.

Hocken and his passengers were surrounded by dust coming from the Town Hall and the nearby Victoria Square bridge. The bridge was creaking loudly, recalls Hocken.

5 comments:

Ginny said...

What a horribly frightening experience it must have been to go through, to witness. I guess at first you would think that the world is coming to an end.

chloephotography said...

i like that photo
that was a scary thing to read, they must have been so frightened

diane b said...

What a terrible tragedy. It must have been scary for the punters. A nice pic of you on the river.

Diane AZ said...

Fascinating to read what it was like to be in the river during the earthquake. It must have been frightening!

Dave said...

Thanks for relating this Ann. Its a part of the Christchurch earthquake we never heard about - Dave