You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Christchurch's QE2 rises from the rubble

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 16/04/2018

Replay Video
QE2 was once the jewel of Christchurch's east, a multi-purpose sports facility built to host the 1974 Commonwealth Games.

However the Canterbury earthquakes damaged the complex and demolition began in 2012.

Almost six years later a new, admittedly smaller, QE2 has risen from rubble, and is expected to open at the end of next month.

Senior project manager, Steve Hastie, said it was the biggest job of its type he had ever attempted, and there were significant challenges.

"One of the big challenges too was the fact that 10 million [dollars worth] of the equipment in this facility is all from different places around the world," he said.

"We've got a moveable [pool] floor out of the UK, the hydroslide and aqua-play are out of Canada, the pools are out of the US, skylights out of Israel."

The original facility, built to host the 1974 Commonwealth Games, included a running track, diving pool, and a public pool.

But the Christchurch City Council decided it would be too costly to repair it after the earthquakes.

The council's head of sport and recreation, John Filsell, said the new $38.6m facility had a slightly different focus than its predecessor.

"Primarily, the new facility aims to cater to the north-east of town, rather than having the old international focus," he said.

"The main national event facilities will move into the middle of town.... this focuses on fun, it focuses on recreation, it has a primary focus on children but also on older adults."

The new QE2 features a 130-metre long blue hydroslide, a 25-metre lap pool, a leisure pool with a lazy river, a learn-to-swim pool, a hydrotherapy pool, a spa, a steam room, a sauna, a fitness centre and café.

It's kitted out with the latest technology, including a rising floor in the main lap pool which cost about $1m.

John Filsell said he expected it to be well used by the community.

"We've certainly got a swimming pool here capable of hosting a number of events, we're engaging with the community about the wider use of QE2 Park at the moment so watch this space," he said.

"The community have been looking forward to this for a while, it will alleviate a deficit in facilities that we've had since the quake."

But local councillor, David East, said the lap pool's size could put off swimming events being hosted at the site.

He would rather it was 50 meters long, the length required for professional swimming events.

"I'm keen to see what was here orignally restored, it's probably fairly parochial but we in the east certianly valued the facility when it was here and if we can have that back at some stage it'd be great," he said.

Nevertheless, David East said the community had missed having swimming facilities available locally.

"For me it's a vital part of living in an island nation that all kids have access to Learn to Swim (a swimming lesson programme) and it does concern me greatly that a number of our young population have missed out on that," he said.

The council expects the new QE2 facility to be open to the public by the end of May.

More From Radio New Zealand

Radio New Zealand
Radio New Zealand
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon