It’s life Jim, but not as we know it…

Sarah Mankelow —  18/03/2011

The Department of Conservation is back to business in Christchurch.

Yes things have changed since that fateful day Tuesday 22 February when the world bucked like a wild bronco at a rodeo show. We have no city visitor centre. Our inner city offices are cordoned off and will be for some time to come. Some of our tracks and special places are closed. Down town looks a bit like a new and alien world – as Captain Kirk said ‘It’s life Jim but not as we know it’.

Parking is no longer so great outside DOC's Kilmore Street office

Torrens House in the background appears fairly unscathed behind the rubble of neighbouring buildings – but it is off limits for at least six months

But we have picked ourselves up, dusted off our khaki pants and are ready to get back into it.

Want to know about our tracks and huts? Or perhaps get a hunting permit? You can check out the DOC website – we’re working to keep that right up-to-date. There’s even a special section on the earthquake.

Want to talk to us or ask a question? You can email us. You can ring the usual numbers – someone will answer. If you want to face up to a real person, you can call into our two closest area offices at 31 Nga Mahi Road, Sockburn or 32 River Road, Rangiora. The rangers at our two national park visitor centres in Arthur’s Pass and Aoraki / Mt Cook are very helpful and knowledgeable people too. Give them a call or visit – both are great places to get away from the stresses of the city – but not necessarily from quakes as they both sit on the Alpine Fault!

Things may not be quite as convenient or as fast as before – remember all our files are in a building that only guys in hard hats can enter. And while we are a government agency, we are people too, and we were all affected in many ways by the earthquake. Some of us lost homes. All of us are as tired and as stinky as the rest of Christchurch as we deal with aftershocks that disrupt our sleep and water supplies that are not quite back to normal.

My son, William Webb, outside his school in Heathcote – closed for three weeks while they cleaned up the rubble of those buildings that didn’t stand the test of 6.3.

But we believe in the value of conservation and we are back in business. Even if we have to do it in our own backyards.

Sarah Mankelow


A North Island defector, I came south to go to Lincoln Uni and never looked back. My first ‘serious’ job with DOC was in Arthur’s Pass. I've been based in Christchurch since the turn of the century!

5 responses to It’s life Jim, but not as we know it…


    Hi, just interested in your comment that Torrens House would be off limits for at least 6 months…
    Is that based on an official source of information? Only asking as I know someone who works there and they were hoping it would be sooner than that. Cheers =)


      I think everyone wants it to be sooner than that – including the landlord! But it all depends on things like – how soon they can get engineers in to check it – and they can’t go in until the grand chancellor is dropped – and the other buildings closer to us. Its a bit of a mess around our oasis of stability!


    Good to hear you’re back in business! Do you have a list of tracks and areas closed due to the earthquake? Was sad when I ventured out to Banks Peninsula a few weekends ago to find nearly every single DOC track closed – ah well. Stay safe 🙂


      Hi Nathanael! Most Banks Peninsula tracks opened about a week ago so that’s great news. All our Port Hills Tracks remain closed as many of those have problems with unsafe rocks. Check into the DOC website for updates – we have a special page on earthquake updates which includes facilities info! Happy walking!