Bob Gemmett is the happiest man in the Avondale red zone.
Two years after the February earthquake Mr Gemmett still uses a portaloo and only got water out of his kitchen tap three days ago. He should be miserable, but the self proclaimed "Chief of Chale Lane'' has adopted a hermit lifestyle in the red zone and "couldn't be happier.''
"I have nothing to worry about here, I can go wherever I like, through backyards and go exploring. When I need to put the washing out I can put it on the neighbour's washing line depending on where the sun is.
"I always wanted a ten acre farm and now I have - I don't need to go bush, it's all right here,'' he said.
Mr Gemmett still lives in his house with his 18 year-old son and freely roams through the abandoned properties.
His only gripe is aimed at the city council.
"They have put these darned road barriers by the river, but we take them down again, then they put them up again and so on,'' he said.
Happy where he is, Mr Gemmett said he has everything he needs.
"Now I have about four spare garages because I use the neighbour's. Actually one night I slept in one because I had a heck of a bad cough for about six weeks and I didn't want to keep Ian up, so I slept in the back of neighbour's - it's nearer to my back door than my own garage,'' he said.
For a hot bath, Mr Gemmett and his son rely on the sun to heat a hose which takes water to his house from Hulverstone Drive.
Electricity was reconnected late last year when his daughter visited "so she could iron her clothes or something.''
Vandals and burglars struck the house next door, leaving gaping holes where a stove and hot water cylinder used to be. They also took every door in the house.
"But the burglars don't wake me up, it's the security guards that do. They woke me up at 2am once with all their lights shining around,'' he said.
He says there is no serious damage to his house but admits that he did have to turn his bed around because "every time I turned over I fell out'' because of the sloping floor.
Mr Gemmett is adamant he won't be shifting when the Government's deadline to vacate the red zone in July expires.
"Of course I'm not going to leave, I love it here,'' he said.
Across the river in the Burwood red zone, the Dunn family has also vowed not to leave.
Ian Dunn's family and their neighbour are the last two families left on Tasman Pl - a street which once had 39 families, he said.
Their new home is being built in North Canterbury, but it won't be ready until September. With two dogs, Abby and Jessie, he said he has no hope of getting a short-term rental.
"I don't care what anyone else says, I'll dig a hole in our backyard if I have to and stay in that. Our dogs are part of our family and I am not giving them up,'' he said.
He said that because his was one of the last two households remaining it was sometimes "lonely.''
"It does get a bit lonely, my biggest fear is when my daughter has to walk to and from the bus stop on New Brighton Rd twice a day for school, nobody is around so I do fear for her,'' he said.
Mr Dunn said he gets sick and tired of "rubber neckers.''
"They come down in their cars and film us like we were zoo animals. In the weekend we get 30 to 40 cars easy driving around. My wife gets a bit antsy with them and stands out on the driveway and stares at them,'' he said.
But unlike Mr Gemmett and Mr Dunn, the July deadline can't come quick enough for Bexley red zone resident Justine Morris.
The Otakaro Pl resident tries to smile but finally gives in saying: "I hate living here, I thought I was quite resilient and tough, but I've had enough.''
Ms Norris will be out before the July deadline, to a new home near Cypress Garden, Linwood, but for her it is bittersweet.
"It was all we could afford. Our section will be 80 square metres smaller and we had to extend our mortgage by $20,000 for a home in a less desirable area,'' she said.
"It's like we are back where we first started out. Our first home was in Linwood and then we shifted here. Now we are going back,'' she said.
Every morning at 7am a "sucker truck'' comes to collect the sewage from outside her property. When it rains, her front yard quickly disappears and sandbags are permanently protecting her garage door.