Rolleston or Rangiora: Which is Christchurch's premier satellite town?
Rivalry is set to heat up between the booming satellite towns of Rolleston and Rangiora as new shops, schools and subdivisions open.
In a few weeks Rolleston College, the town's first high school opens, marking a major new stage in growth as a rival to the long-established town of Rangiora.
A real estate agent says home buyers are visiting open homes in both towns as they try to decide where to buy.
Both have experienced unprecedented growth since the Canterbury earthquakes with Selwyn District Councillor Craig Watson saying the quakes "shot a steroid in the bum" of Rolleston.
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While Rangiora has the larger population, Census figures show Rolleston is winning the youth race.
The 2013 figures show the Selwyn town has nearly four times the number of people aged under 15 than it has aged over 65.
Watson, a Rolleston resident, said the town needed to "make sure we have stuff for our teenagers"..
"At the moment there's 10 or so buses going to Lincoln from Rolleston every day, three going to Darfield and one going to Ellesmere College.
"We don't want to have them hopping on a bus into Christchurch every day. Whether it be movie theatres or skate parks … whatever it is, we need to keep our kids engaged in our community."
In 2013 Rangiora had more retirement-aged people than under-15s. The former are more than a fifth of the town's population.
Rangiora High School, one of Canterbury's biggest, had a roll of 1768 at the end of 2016.
A number of new retirement options in the town include the massive Charles Upham Retirement Village, where the main building houses 120 residents and there are 93 serviced apartments.
Ray White Rangiora owner Stuart Morris said personal taste, value for money and place of work influenced whether homebuyers chose Rolleston or Rangiora.
Median house values in the two towns, according to QV, were $443,350 for Rangiora and $553,750 for Rolleston.
"It is not uncommon to have people out at open homes who are checking both towns for a lifestyle change."
He said Rangiora "probably had more character".
"Rolly's grown so quickly it feels quite new, whereas we're an old farming service town."
Major retailers and fast-food outlets like The Warehouse, New World and Countdown supermarkets, McDonalds, KFC and Subway have already joined growing public facilities and residential developments in each town.
Future arrivals like Briscoes in Rangiora and a major hardware retailer for Rolleston show confidence in both towns' continued growth.
Rangiora's 5000 square meter Farmers store, complete with the Waimakariri district's first escalator, could have Rolleston's Postie Plus beat.
Bev Brain, who has lived in Rangiora for most of her life and owned The Wool Shop on High St for about 35 years, said the recently rebuilt Farmers was a drawcard for many.
Carla McArdle, a Rolleston resident of about a year, said she thought the range of clothes shops had failed to keep up with the town's rapidly growing population.
"There seems to be a lot of people living out here, but not a lot of amenities, services or shopping really. You've got to go to Hornby or Riccarton."
That could be set to change after the Government in December approved the exchange of land at Rolleston Reserve, next to New World, with nearby Foster Park.
The land swap will open the way for a new library complex, a public square and retail shops and could begin from 2018/19 depending on investor interest.
The South Point complex in the town's Faringdon subdivision, which includes a dance school, a cafe and bar and a clothing store, is also due to open in a couple of months.
Long-standing pubs remain in each town, along with a variety of restaurants, doctors' offices, pharmacies, sports grounds and an indoor pool at each.
Farmers shopper Sharan Mackintosh, a Rangiora resident since age 15, said her two daughters made Rolleston their home and found it "really great".
"There are more and more things coming to Rolleston, like KFC just started up there recently. But, I think, as far as the township goes and the shopping, I think Rangiora will beat it heads up."
Her hometown just lacked one major aspect, she said.
"The only thing I think we're short of is toilets. We haven't got enough loos."
Cr Watson, who lives in Rolleston with his young family, said the town was ideal for young families.
"As a family we chose Rolleston over Rangiora in a heartbeat.
"When we get that town centre in the middle, so we get that more sort of retail shopping, and we get the commercial bit out with the Carter block going in and when the iZone (commercial park) is at full capacity, people are going to have not just a place to live.
"We don't want to be a housing estate for Christchurch, we're actually going to be an independent town with an economy and business to support our people, but also retail to support the shopping. The only reason I go to town with my family is so I can go to Mitre 10 or Bunnings."
'IT GOT TOO BIG'
Rolleston Dairy owners John and Heather Toone have run their business for 20 years and said they were among some of the last of pre-boom Rolleston. They too would soon move to make way for another development, Heather Toone said.
"We won't see any of the history of the town hardly left, it'll be all new.
"It's not the wee town it used to be. A lot of people have moved out that we know, as it got too big, or they've moved around Rolleston."
John Toone said he thought "the council got it wrong" when Rolleston was first developed, and it took off too quickly to be properly planned.
"The centre of town's sort of two-bitty, it's not all together, sort of thing … Now they're trying to put it all in one area without causing too many problems, shall we say."
While Rangiora's Brain said she loved the people and community feel of her hometown, Rolleston's McArdle – one of the many earthquake refugees to move from Christchurch – missed that about her former Burwood community.
"The schools are pretty good … they put on a fair bit, as well as the sports ground," she said.
"In terms of kids' activities, I think it's good, and the swimming pool's good, although you go in there some days and it's just shoulder-to-shoulder .… It's just so packed and I think it's outgrown the number of kids and people here.
"It's a wee bit different from living in town. I guess you don't really get to know people as much out here. I don't know why that is."
Brain maintained that in Rangiora "you're close to everything" and if the need to go into Christchurch was not already gone, it was waning.
"If you want to go to the beach it's only a quarter-of-an-hour drive. It used to be a 20-minute drive into Christchurch but … it [only] is now if you go at the right time. It's not if you go at 8[am]."
Rangiora's High St layout encouraged people to walk to their destination, while a more scattered retail area lent itself to car parking at Rolleston's store fronts.
Littered along the Rangiora streets remain signs of the town of old. As development took off, many long-standing businesses, like The Wool Shop, remain open.
Mackintosh said High St had "always been a good focal point for people" where those walking were bound to run into people they knew. That was changing with the town's growth, she said.
The Toones said they thought Rolleston had lost its identity with the developments, while Rangiora had kept its community feel.
"It is good living out there. It's good living here too, we're just far enough away.
"[Rolleston's] got a wee bit of community feeling with it, but it's just … we used to know everybody who came in," Heather Toone said.
"That bit of it's gone, it's history. It'll never be like that again."