What will Christchurch look like in 2021?

Cranes tower over the central city in 2016. What will Christchurch look like in 2021 and how will it feel to live here?

Cranes tower over the central city in 2016. What will Christchurch look like in 2021 and how will it feel to live here?


Whether central Christchurch is successful or stagnant in five years comes down to one thing, according to ex-mayor Sir Bob Parker.

"We either re-double our efforts to complete the blueprint as it was promised, with those shiny new projects, or we will still be looking at large, undeveloped central city spaces."

Parker says the rest of the city will doing fine in five years as homes are rebuilt and suburban malls flourish, but the central city is at risk.

Both council and central government are responsible for what has happened since the earthquakes, and what happens next, he says.

 "If they keep prevaricating, many parts of the central city will still have big question marks hanging over them.

"We need the convention centre, the stadium, the relocation of the performing arts, and the restoration of the Town Hall.

"They are the key to driving commercial investment and to having more residents in the central city. If those anchor projects are completed as we were told they would be, we will probably have a thriving CBD."

'It was a miracle' - PGC survival photo five years on
Christchurch Urban Search and Rescue responders look back
Elderly earthquake evacuee ready to return to new home
Childhood interrupted by February 2011 earthquake
International perceptions of Christchurch more positive
A photographer's recollection of February 22
Six years, 14,000 quakes, and a new South Island


Ad Feedback

For Andre Lovatt success will be measured by how much the word 'earthquake' is used in the everyday vocabulary of residents in 2021.

"Will we still be talking about insurance claims and building defects? Hopefully not."

Lovatt, as the newly appointed chairman of Regenerate Christchurch, says he's optimistic about the city's future.

"I want to see less road works and major aspects of the rebuild that are, if not completed, then very well advanced."

In his other role as chief executive of the Arts Centre, he says the restored Gothic Revival complex will be "rocking people's socks off".

"From a personal point of view, I'm excited about seeing people coming into the central city – a place where people live and not just wander around.

"I want to see visitors spending a lot more time here too. That's progress."

Lovatt is also interested to see what effect of a lot more Chinese tourists visiting Christchurch has on the city.

"I'm looking forward to having more food offerings to entice those visitors in the future."


Social entrepreneur and co-founder of the Ministry of Awesome Kaila Colbin predicts by 2021 Christchurch will be one of the shiniest cities in the world.

She expects it to be full of new buildings but that a fair number of them will be empty as the pace of inventory coming online surpasses the pace of demand for new space.

The first self-driving cars will be on the roads and the city's cycle network will be much stronger.

Art will be everywhere as Spectrum continues to secure more walls for more street artists and the River of Arts, Scape, and the Art Gallery continue to grow stronger.

On the down side Colbin predicts employment will be higher as the rebuild starts to slow down.

She expects there will be a more mature transitional sector as groups like Gap Filler, Life in Vacant Spaces, Greening the Rubble and the Ministry of Awesome get a better understanding of the role they play as the city moves from response to recovery and from the temporary to the permanent.


Evan Smith the coordinator of the Avon-Otakaro Network, hopes that in 2021 the east of the city will have been transformed but admits that might be wishful thinking.

"In 2021 as I look down on east Christchurch from my perch on the Bridle Path I see an emerging green and blue naturally restored river park snaking from the estuary up the Avon-Otakaro, past the thriving rebuilt and re-orientated New Brighton village and the new high school campuses and recreation centres to a CBD that has retained its love of the creative and green," he says.

"I then take off my rose-tinted glasses and see before me the weed-infested blurry grey of the not-yet-fixed, the not-yet-realised and the partially-started riverside residential developments that have sprouted mortgagee sales signs," says Smith.


Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel looks to the future with no reservation and says she won't focus on the negatives when asked what Christchurch will look like 10 years on from February 22, 2011.

She says the city will have a network of cycleways for "ease of movement".

If she had a wish list, seeing a public transport system that is completely electric would be at the top of it.

Thousands more people will be working and living in the central city, herself included, she says.

"I want an apartment in or around Cathedral Sq . . . nd I want to be living in the central city by 2021."

The Arts Centre will be a "thriving hive of activity" in five years time and its impressive restoration will garner international recognition, she predicts.

All going well, Regenerate Christchurch will become a fully council organisation and the new central library and planned metro sports facility will be up and running.

"These will be the most utilised and visited facilities," she says.

"The Town Hall will be hosting international concerts…and the convention centre will be hosting conferences."

Dalziel says the residential red zone will "emerge as one of the major features in the city" while New Brighton will be a year-round destination thanks to the planned hot saltwater pools.


Lisa Goodman, the manager of the Central City Business Association, thinks by 2021 most Christchurch residents will be proud of their new city centre and seizing every opportunity to visit.

"Seeing people flock to the Art Gallery reopening and Margaret Mahy Playground opening in recent months has reinforced for me how Christchurch people are thirsty for progress in opportunities to enjoy their central city," says Goodman.

In another five years Goodman expects there will be still be some gaps in the central city but the overwhelming impression will be of a modern, 21st century central city emerging with a nod to the past.

She is optimistic most of the anchor projects will be completed or nearing completion.

"The Convention Centre build may be underway but not finished.

"Work may not have begun on the stadium, as currently there seems to be a greater focus or priority in getting other projects underway," she says.

More than 15,000 office workers will be working in the central city. Some will have embraced the new cycling routes, she says. Large numbers will be using the bus network but others will still prefer to bring in their vehicles. 

"On the weekends they will be returning to the central city with their families as there will be so much on offer in the retail, hospitality, arts and leisure areas.

Goodman says inner-city residential development, including a partially completed east frame, will make "a valuable contribution to the economy and vibrancy of the city".


Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says Christchurch's recovery is on a good trajectory.

The five years to 2021 will see a huge amount of progress, he says. 

"I think it will look significantly improved on how it looks at the moment with many key projects delivered."

He's looking forward to an outcome over the Christ Church Cathedral stalemate, saying so far there's been a "high degree" of public tolerance over the stalemate.

"But in the end it has to be treated the same as any other building."

Brownlee is reluctant to put a time frame on the long-awaited convention centre but is "hopeful" the facility will be built by the time Christchurch marks the tenth anniversary of the earthquake. 

The convention centre and its surrounding precinct will be designed to complement neighbouring public spaces, the minister says. 

Brownlee says the Crown's new company Otakaro Limited will be the "get things done body" and will oversee the delivery of the anchor projects. 

The Avon River precinct will prove a popular public destination, he says. 

 - Stuff


Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback