Report - Christchurch Town Hall, Christchurch - February 2015

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Is this the future?
Regular User
Mar 16, 2014
The First part of Christchurch Town Hall was opened in September, 1972, positioned by the side of Avon; the river which runs through the city. The second part of the development sought to bring new civic offices to the city, to replace older ones, but these plans were never set in motion since the council opted to construct them elsewhere, using the former site of Miller’s Department Store. The offices were completed in 1978 and were fully operational by 1980. Since 2007, the Town Hall has officially been known as the Christchurch Town Hall of the Performing Arts, redesigned to cater for a range of activities and performances such as orchestral concerts, ballet; opera; comedy; dramatic productions and various folk, jazz and rock concerts. While the venue was certainly not the largest, it serviceably seated 2,500 people in the main auditorium, a further 1,000 in the smaller James Hay Theatre, and had four rooms that were used as conference and function spaces; of these the largest were named the Limes Room and the Cambridge Room. The Town Hall was also home to a Rieger Pipe organ; an exceptionally large instrument constructed by Rieger Orgelbau, a reputable Austrian organ builders company that has existed since 1879. The organ in St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh, is also a Rieger organ. Finally, situated on the ground floor was Boaters Restaurant, a hospitality training venue for Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology.

Christchurch Town Hall closed in 2011, on account of liquefaction; the process whereby a solid material, or a gas in some instances, assumes a form similar to that of a liquid. This process caused considerable subsidence underneath the building’s foundations. In the aftermath, following a damage assessment, it was estimated that the entire building could be saved at a cost of $127.5 million. Analogous to most earthquake-damaged buildings in Christchurch, though, decisions concerned with demolition or salvation are not unanimous.

Once again, we had attempted to wake up early, intent on getting back inside Christchurch cathedral, but this plan proved ineffectual. During our time in Christchurch workers have been busy erecting a large wooden defence structure using logs, and this functions as a wall to keep us out (not well enough it would seem) and to prevent the cathedral from crushing surrounding buildings in event of further seismic activity. By the time we got there workers building this wall were swarming around our entry point. A note to self: set a louder alarm… A little frustrated we wandered off aimlessly – as we so often do in Christchurch – knowing that something else would crop up. For a while we stood on a bridge that is positioned over the river Avon, reflecting on life and that sort of thing, and whilst gazing at the old Town Hall we wondered why we had not yet been in there. So that was that. We climbed over the side of the bridge and scrambled into the bushes by the side of the river. Conveniently, the bushes acted as a screen, allowing us to walk right the way up to the building itself despite the public park opposite us. The tricky bit was trying to cross the large forecourt, because the fence surrounding the premises has many ‘peep-holes’ for tourists to grab a quick snap… Hopefully we won’t end up in too many photo albums. Once we were up close to the Town Hall various alcoves functioned as perfect hiding spaces and, like ninjas in the shadows, we slowly moved around the building to find a way inside. Needless to say, we got in, and the place was suddenly ours for a while.

While it’s not particularly spectacular looking back at the photographs, when we were actually in the building it gave off a much better feeling. Moreover, considering the road is right outside, there was an uncanny silence as we moved through the various rooms and fancy corridors and this served to heighten the experience even further. We knew the building was regularly patrolled by security mind, so it perhaps felt a bit too quiet… Still, two hours later we still hadn’t encountered anyone. But, as we were set to leave Nillskill spotted him – a guard ambling around outside; heading towards our exist point. Half giving it legs, and half trying to grab a last snap, we made a ridiculously slow escape attempt. When we did finally reach the door we had originally come through we discovered that someone had attempted to relock it, but with a gentle touch we were free once again! This, however, was followed by a loud guttural shout: “Oi! You two, stop right there!â€. With our tripods still in one hand, and various other bits and pieces in the other, very much like two desperate people rushing to catch the last bus, we sprinted away. The chase was on!... For a while at least (I’d say at least ten seconds). We reached the bridge and hurriedly climbed back over, receiving many quizzical looks from pedestrians as we did. I sensed that many were examining us a little disapprovingly. On a brighter note, that was the last we saw of our vexed friend. For a while we watched from a distance to see what would happen, and the place became surprisingly lively for a while as more security arrived. It would appear that the building is perhaps more valued that we initially anticipated (perhaps it’s the Rieger organ?).

Explored with Urbex Central NZ

1: Christchurch Town Hall Exterior


2: Christchurch Town Hall - Former Public Area


3: Old Public Walkway


4: The Main Auditorium


5: Entrance to the Main Auditorium


6: The Main Auditorium


7: The Other Side of the Main Auditorium


8: The Main Building


9: The Main Building Now


10: Upstairs (Leading to Viewing Galleries)


11: Upstairs Viewing Gallery


12: Upstairs Seating


13: Upstairs Seating (The Organ is Behind the White Covering on the Right)


14: Main Corridor


15: Entrance to Seating Areas


16: Main Corridor


17: The Rieger Pip Organ


18: Main Hall (From Upstairs)


19: A Crack in the Middle of the Building


20: The Kitchens


21: Measuring the Crack Movement


22: The Limes Room


23: The Main Staircase


24: The Ground Floor


25: Chubb and Chubb


26: Fancy Ceiling Art

Last edited:
Likes: NoTurningBack


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Dec 1, 2013
Re: Christchurch Town Hall, February 2015 - Christchurch

Bloody hell that auditorium looked impressive in it's day, some very cool stuff in that place by the looks of it :thumbs


Is this the future?
Regular User
Mar 16, 2014
Re: Christchurch Town Hall, February 2015 - Christchurch

Cheers :)

Bloody hell that auditorium looked impressive in it's day, some very cool stuff in that place by the looks of it :thumbs
I know man, it looked like it was incredible in its day!

Very nice mate! Top stuff as always :thumb
That auditorium... :eek:
Haha, cheers mate :thumb It’s actually a lot bigger in there too, bigger than what my pictures show.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Aug 4, 2014
Re: Christchurch Town Hall, February 2015 - Christchurch

Bloody brilliant,that's some place. Nice report too :thumb