The Christchurch business sector consists of a wide range of activities including those relating to retailing, administration, ICT, finance and commerce, leisure, entertainment and hospitality, manufacturing, processing and high technology.

Infrastructure supports sustainable economic growth

Economic growth is regarded as a necessary component for meeting the aspiration of residents for an improved quality of life. Creating and enhancing strategic city infrastructure to be modern, reliable and effective will support sustainable economic activity and growth. 

Key points

  • The decline in accommodation establishments as a result of the earthquakes had a direct effect on accommodation capacity in the city. From 2010 to 2011, hotels and backpackers dropped 64% and 56% respectively. Since this low point, capacity has increased as establishments are repaired or rebuilt, although in 2016 there was a slight decline in hotel capacity.
  • The number of homes and businesses able to access ultrafast broadband has more than tripled since 2012 with 117,988 able to access fibre in the year to June 2016.  Uptake of customers is significantly lower, with 22% of those with access connecting to the network.
  • Traffic volume on freight routes has increased in Christchurch overall. Both Brougham Street and the Southern Motorway increased significantly between 2012 and 2015, with the Southern motorway increasing by 18,700 vehicles in this period. Traffic volumes to the north of the city also increased post-quake.

Accommodation Capacity











Source: MoT, Household Travel Survey(external link)

Distribution of Ultrafast Broadband

Ultrafast Broadband graph

Source: Enable Network Limited, Annual Report

Traffic Volumes on Freight Routes (2001-2015)

Traffic Volumes on Freight Routes (2001-2015) graph

Source: NZTA, State Highway Traffic Data

More detail and information

Enable Networks Annual Report:(external link) Enable is providing fibre broadband services to homes, businesses and schools in Christchurch

Great place to work, live, visit, invest and do business

The attractiveness of a city is generally defined by the range of social and economic activities and services, and the quality of its physical and built environment. These factors contribute to the look and feel of the cityscape, people's sense of attachment to place, and economic growth within the city. 

Key points

  • Christchurch's unemployment rate at June 2017 was 4.3%; below the national rate of 5.9% due to the rebuild. However it appears to be increasing since reaching a low of 3.2% in  June 2014.
  • 78% of Christchurch residents are satisfied with their overall quality of life, a drop from 95% before the earthquakes in 2010.
  • Guest nights in Christchurch were increasing gradually pre-earthquakes, although they slowed post the global financial crisis. Immediately after the earthquakes the total number of visitors staying in Christchurch dropped by 38%. Guest nights have gradually increased and in 2017 reached 82% of the pre-quake numbers.
  • Christchurch has continued to have positive investor confidence since the February 2011 earthquake. However, confidence levels have decreased to -3% of investors believing it is a good time to invest, in June 2017 compared with a high of 60% in December 2013.

Unemployment Rate











Source: Statistics NZ, Household Labour Force Survey(external link)

Satisfaction with Quality of Life











Source: Quality of Life Survey(external link)

Total Guest Nights











Source: Statistics NZ, NZ Accommodation Survey(external link)

Commercial Investor Confidence












Source: Colliers International, Commercial Property Investor Confidence

More detail and information

Christchurch Economic Development Strategy: (external link)The Christchurch Economic Development Strategy brings together the views of various businesses and agencies in the region to identify ways in which to optimise our economy so that by 2031 Christchurch has a higher quality of life, better income, greater employment and is a vibrant and growing city attracting people from around the globe.

Invest in Christchurch:(external link) The earthquakes have provided an unprecedented opportunity to remake an international city. The unique nature of the earthquakes and the response has created an investment environment with a compelling range of ways to participate.

There is adequate and appropriate land for a range of uses

There needs to be a reasonable quantity of land for ongoing residential, commercial, industrial and community activities within the city. With an increasing demand for new residential housing, and commercial and industrial floorspace, there is often a conflict between the demands for land; traditionally with rural land being consumed for urban purposes. 

Key points

  • At April 2016, there were 19,800 potential sections identified in priority Greenfield areas. 10,600 are currently zoned residential and of these 6300 have applied for or approved subdivision consents.  Up to April 2016 there have been 2120 houses consented in these areas. This is enough land for around 20 years of greenfield growth at the rate of building activity since 2001. 
  • There is currently 960ha of zoned industrial vacant land in the City.  There is an additional 380ha of land located in priority Greenfield areas still to be rezoned for business. The average pre earthquake rate of take up is 26ha per annum and at this rate there would be enough zoned industrial land for another 25 years (with an additional 15 years in the land still to be rezoned).
  • Rezoning of land from rural to urban purposes has resulted in a loss of just over 1400ha of moderately and highly versatile soils in the City since 1995; there was 6600ha of these soils at June 2016.  Over the same time 2200ha of lower quality soils were rezoned to urban purposes from rural.

Residential Land Availability

Residential Land Availability graph

Source: LURP, Monitoring Report

Area of Industrial Vacant Land












Source: Council, Industrial Vacant Land Register

Area of Versatile Horticultural Soils

Versatile Horticultural Soils graph

Source: Landcare Research, Canterbury Plains & Downs Soils Database

Loss of Soils by Versatility Type

Soils by Versatility Type graph

Source: Landcare Research, Canterbury Plains & Downs Soils Database 

More detail and information

Land Use Recovery Plan:(external link) The LURP puts land use policies and rules in place to assist rebuilding and recovery of communities (including housing and businesses) that have been disrupted by the earthquakes, helping to achieve the vision of the Recovery Strategy for Greater Christchurch.

Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy:(external link) The purpose of the UDS is to manage growth and development in the Greater Christchurch area, including the location of future housing, development of social and retail activity centres, areas for new employment and integration with transport networks.

The Council is responsive to the demands of the rebuild

The rebuild of Christchurch is expected to span 10 - 20 years, with much of the planned work to occur in stages. It is essential that the council has a certain degree of awareness and understanding of the demands and issues facing the rebuild.

Key points

  • Between 97 and 99% of simple  and complex resource consents and subdivision consents were processed within the statutory timeframes  in the year to June 2016.  75% of applicants were satisfied with the resource consent process overall.
  • 97% of building consent applications were processed within their statutory timeframes in the year to June 2016, compared with 89% in  2015. 
  • SCIRT reported that 89% of the overall programme is complete at June 2016. Fresh water infrastructure is closest to completion with stormwater the furthest.

Processing Time for Resource Consents

Processing Time for Resource Consents graph

Source: Council, End of Year Reporting

Processing Time for Building Consents

Processing Time for Building Consents graph

Source: Council, End of Year Reporting

SCIRT Progress (Dec 2016)

SCIRT Progress (Dec 2016) graph

Source: SCIRT, Progress Statistics(external link)

More detail and information

Target Sustainability:(external link) Target Sustainability provides free support to help Christchurch businesses become more resource efficient through reducing waste and being energy and water efficient.

Repair & Rebuild of Council Community Facilities: Most of the Council's 1000 community facilities across Christchurch and Banks Peninsula were damaged to some degree in the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes.

Transitional Christchurch: The Transitional City is important because it’s a chance to trial new ideas and ways of doing things.

Consents Monthly Reporting:(external link) A monthly update on the number of resource and building consents being processed by the council. 

Christchurch has a highly skilled workforce

A highly skilled workforce is necessary to increase business productivity, assist in the rebuild, and ensure the future prosperity of Christchurch's economy. A variety of employment choices, tertiary institutions, and initiatives aimed at up-skilling the existing workforce will help to develop, enhance, and retain a highly skilled workforce. 

Key points

  • From 2006 to 2013, the number of people with no qualifications dropped from 60,000 to 50,000. The proportion of people gaining a bachelors degree or higher increased from 17% to 21%.
  • Enrollment in tertiary institutions in Christchurch declined post-earthquake. University enrollments dropped by 3000 between 2010 and 2011 as a result of the earthquakes. Polytechnic enrollments dropped pre-earthquake, by 7311 between 2009 and 2011, however in 2016, Polytechnic enrollments increased by 2545 since the previous year.
  • There has been a positive net migration trend in the four primary earthquake related occupations (technicians and trade workers, machinery operators and labourers etc) since February 2011.
  • Migration of technicians and trades workers increased the most post-earthquake, from 411 in 2011, to 1546 in 2014. Professionals peaked in 2014, before decreasing to 2013 levels in 2015.
  • The number of people employed in Christchurch has declined from 250,000 in 2014 to 230,000 in 2015. The total number people employed in New Zealand increased over the same period. 

Highest Qualification Gained

Highest Qualification Gained graph

Source: Statistics NZ, Census of Population & Dwellings(external link)

Total Number of Tertiary Students by Institutional Group











Source: Statistics NZ, External Migration Data(external link)

Migrant Arrivals by Occupation










Source: Statistics NZ, External Migration Data(external link)

Employment of Skilled Migrant Category











Source: Statistics NZ, Household Labour Force Survey(external link)