One of Christchurch’s great passive recreational facilities is Halswell Quarry Park. Just 15 minutes from the central city, it comprises 55 hectares of parklands, walkways, picnic areas, wetlands ponds, native plantings and a wildlife habitat. A disused quarry is the centrepiece of the park.
An amphitheatre of steep jagged rock has been created by 140 years of quarrying. In 1989, the quarry had reached a depth of 20 metres below the present floor. Some of the rock was used as stone slabs for building, and some was crushed to provide road metal.
Some distinctive Christchurch buildings are made of Halswell stone, including the Canterbury Museum, the Sign of the Takahe and the Old Sydenham Post Office (now set for demolition after earthquake damage).
The Quarry ceased operation in 1990, and then began the transformation into a park.
Around six million years ago, basalt from Lyttelton volcano cooled rapidly, to form the distinctive fine-grained Halswell stone. The basalt columns can be seen in the photo above. The rockfall was caused by the earthquake in September 2010.
Earthquake movement has cleared some faces of loose rock.
The Park has six sister cities, in England, Australia, Japan, Korea, USA and China. Each of these cities has a designated area of trees plantings and monuments. At bottom left, in the photo above, is the pergola in the Japanese section.
This heritage-listed house was built of Halswell quarry stone for unmarried quarrymen. It was built in 1922, and was used by up to 12 men at a time. From 1933 to 1955 George Withers (a quarryman) and his family of 10 lived here. There has been some careful restoration allowing the public to see just how spartan living conditions were. Unfortunately it is now closed due to earthquake damage.
Paterson House (known as the manager’s house) is also built of Halswell quarry stone. It was built for Mr Paterson when he arrived from Scotland in 1925 to manage the quarry. It also sustained earthquake damage in 2010, with the chimney needing some assistance to stay upright.
See Halswell Quarry Park in the snow here.