The Abandoned Cathedral

The Cathedral is at the heart of the city, and this earthquake damaged building gets photographed by groups of ‘earthquake tourists’ constantly throughout the day. We had to be patient and wait for the perfect time to enter the Cathedral without being rudely interrupted- which ended up taking hours of standing around and waiting for crowds to disperse- for that perfect moment.

The Cathedral was built between 1864 and 1904 and has been abandoned since the February 2011 that devastated Christchurch with the loss of 185 lives. There is huge support in the city to see the Cathedral rebuilt and strengthened, yet the Anglican Church and the Cathedral’s bishop want to see this place demolished.

The damage to the Cathedral is fairly extensive, with the main tower already being demolished, we hope eventually it can be saved.

Explore completed alongside our friends, WildboyzUE from the U.K.

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35 thoughts on “The Abandoned Cathedral

  1. Just gutting to see was such an awesome building and like so many others will end up reduced to rubble. In 50yrs people will be asking why we didn’t save it grrrrrrr

    1. Don’t be stupid! There’s no way that’s gonna be saved at it’s state and with the council’s financial responsibilities. It’s not a priority at this stage. The best thing they should do is to just leave it be and let it serve as an historic site.

  2. Awesome job guys. I love the photos and also believe in going into places long since abonded, stepping over the warning tape and seeing what once was. Love it! Haunting pics in the centre of the beautiful chch.

  3. That last photo – what is it? Can’t tell if its up or down or horizontal.

    I remember the Air Force Skyhawk parked in Cathedral Square, and the competition for making and throwing a paper airplane from the bell tower’s balcony…. if your paper plane landed in the open cockpit then you won a ride. Needless to say, I didn’t win.

    1. There is evidently no technical reason that it should be demolished, all the Engineers who have ever studied the situation agree with that. And the costs to restore are pretty trivial in the big picture. A lot comes down to does the community want it restored (polls indicate yes) and will the Church respect that? (they been very quiet lately). Personally I would consider it a terrible insult to our ancestors efforts to respond to the really modest damage with anything other than the loving restoration. I’m also confident that restored it would form a potent symbol for our recovery and resilience and that the earthquake hasn’t ‘beaten’ us. We have a Rolls Royce that needs some work at the panel beaters – do we want to junk that and replace it with a Toyota Corolla?

    2. I’m personally not among the group that saw it first hand, Joan. I do know that one explorer was surprised that the damage did not appear to be as bad as imagined prior. But we are no experts nor spokespeople for heritage, restoration and commerce. We can offer no informed opinion.

  4. awesome pictures …… im sorry but time should not stand still it should move forward …. does chch want to move forward or stay in the past …. pull it down and rebuild something new for our generation to admire and respect and treasure the memories of the old cathedral by incorporating some of the materials in the new one …….. just my opnion

    1. You’re welcome for the pictures Karen. While we take them incidentally during our adventures – sometimes rushed and sometimes in a relaxed fashion according to the circumstances – they become the centre for conversation after the fact. We’ve enjoyed playing a part in facilitating this conversation amongst the interested communities.

  5. Congratulations on your courage and enterprise on getting into the Cathedral, and the graphic and comprehensive photographic results. Having spent many years in the Cathedral, as a choir member and organist, I am appalled that the church authorities have made no effort to make the building weathertight, nor taken steps to preserve the heritage items therein, particularly the magnificent organ. Is it just going to be left to rack and ruin? It just seems they want to walk away from 150 years of history. One of your photos depicts what looks like a music cabinet that I remember in the upstairs gallery where the organ console is located. Is this right? Did you get any more photos of the organ?

      1. Thanks. I notice that the cover on the grand piano has been disturbed . The piano was fully covered when I last played it, and now it will get covered in birdsh……… like the rest of the place. Great pity.

      2. These guys didn’t shift the piano cover Barry. They say the piano is already covered in birdshit. Also they did show me a shot with an organ manual in the distance. But it wasn’t very revealing, sorry.

  6. Great photos. If they could restore many old buildings in Europe after WW2, it seems a shame they can’t do the same here.

  7. This should definitely be restored, to restore the dignity of my favourite city, I was one such horrified tourist last Easter, couldn’t believe this beautiful building was left open to the elements to deteriorate

  8. It is unthinkable that the Anglicans should be even thinking of pulling down this building instead of taking up the many offers of help with restoration. And so disgusting that they have just left it to the elements, and pigeons, as they have!

    1. We see ourselves as simply observers, GL. The level of feeling around this situation is so high that it’s easy to get confrontational, when there probably is no ‘bad guy’ in this situation. There are conflicting views on what the best course of action looks like. We’d tend to assume the best in people’s motives.

  9. I don’t know if anyone from Urbex had ever been in the Anglican Cathedral before it collapsed.As you entered the foyer to your immediate right on the wall was a marker and a place where you could put your hand and actually feel a tributary of the Waimakariri river as it flowed underneath.
    I feel this should be taken into account before people gnash teeth and shred hankies concerning whether it gets rebuilt or not.
    They could invest hundreds of millions of dollars in doing this or direct money into something more useful.
    The days of this and the square being the central focus are gone.Get over it.Move on and do something new and exciting within the four avenues.There can be no better opportunity to do so.
    Fantastic photos,much appreciated.
    I would love to see the same done with the Catholic cathedral.

  10. Gosh, I remember coming to this place the Christmas before the earthquake. It was incredibly crowded, noisy and bustling with people… I also used to come here all the time with my primary school. To see it so empty and dull is very strange indeed. I can almost hear the wind as it moans through this now void lonely building. I wonder what will become of it.

  11. Deeply saddens me to see the church in this state. I grew up in ChCh. The almost claustrophobic spiral staircase. The feel of the cold masonary. That so steep climb on the wooden stairs to the very top, at the lookout….forever firmly etched in my mind. My heart says it would be a wonderful thing to see it mended. I do also like the idea of taking momentos from the church to incorporate with a new one. So i feel a bit torn with regards to how things should proceed with regards to the church. But its too heartbreaking to see it in the state its currently in. I hope they make a decision soon…

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