NZ man auctions boulder that smashed home in quake

AP News
Posted: Mar 08, 2011 2:44 AM
NZ man auctions boulder that smashed home in quake

A New Zealand homeowner whose house was smashed by a car-sized boulder in last month's earthquake has sold the rock in an online auction for more than 60,000 New Zealand dollars ($44,300).

Christchurch resident Phil Johnson said the 30-ton boulder tumbled down from a hill overlooking his home, crunched through the roof of his garage and came to rest in his hallway during the Feb 22 quake. He dubbed the boulder "Rocky."

"He is in pristine condition (just a little bit of concrete dust). Suitable for garden feature, or as in our case a magnificent addition to your living area," Johnson wrote in a sales note.

"Rocky will enhance your indoor/outdoor flow considerably, especially if you load him in through the garage roof like we did," he wrote.

Proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Red Cross Earthquake Appeal, according to Paul Ford, a spokesman for Trade Me, the website used for the sale.

The magnitude 6.3 earthquake that struck near Christchurch collapsed office blocks, damaged thousands of homes and killed at least 166 people, in one of New Zealand's worst disasters.

The quake sent rocks and debris tumbling into houses and properties in hillside regions, such as Johnson's suburb of Heathcote. In some cases the boulders tore a destructive path as they passed through, and in others they settled inside.

"There were boulders and rocks coming down the hill from all different areas," Betty McGrail, 80, another Heathcote resident, told the New Zealand Herald newspaper this week. "They came down the hill fast, bouncing. They came from everywhere with a 'boom, boom, boom.'

"When I went back to my house this big boulder was in the sitting room," she said. "It's sitting there quite nicely, like it's happy to be there. And no one knows how to get it out."

The winning bid of $36,900 (NZ$50,000) for Johnson's rock was posted by a ski field promotion company, NZSki. The next-highest bidder agreed to throw in NZ$10,050 (NZ$7,444) in exchange for a resort vacation organized by NZSki.

The auction, which ended Monday, "had a cool spirit about it," with "people bringing the right attitude to the party," Ford said.

NZSki chief executive James Coddington said the company would transport "Rocky" to the parking lot at Mount Hutt ski field, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) outside Christchurch, where it is expected to become a spectator attraction.