Zoning reflects the existing and potential pattern of development within a city. As the population grows, increasing pressure is placed upon existing land areas for housing, commercial and industrial activities, and transport service networks.

Current Land Use and Zoning

At June 2016, the total area of all land use activity zones in Christchurch City was 149,300 hectares.

Zone Types

Prior to the 2006 amalgamation with Banks Peninsula district, the land area of Christchurch City was 44,000 hectares.

Table of land zoning

Zone type by number of hectares, 2011-2016

  • The majority (86%) of the Christchurch City's land area was zoned for non-urban uses; predominantly for rural, open space and conservation purposes. Most non-urban zoned land was located in Banks Peninsula, the Port Hills, or the outskirts of the city. The amount of non-urban land in the city has decreased by 0.7 per cent since the earthquakes.
  • Around 20,700 hectares was zoned for urban purposes, with the majority being zoned for residential use (a combined 12,800 hectares for inner, suburban and hill living). Other types of urban zoning include open space, conservation, cultural (e.g. schools, churches etc.) and central and suburban commercial and industrial activities. The urban area has increased in size overall since the earthquakes- by around 900 hectares- as residential and industrial developments have occurred.
  • Other areas (i.e. Special Purpose zones) made up almost 1500 hectares and include the airport, defence force land, hospitals, railway areas, Halswell Quarry, and parts of Bottle Lake Forest. These special purpose zones have decreased in area since the earthquakes- largely impacted by the conversion of Wigram air base to residential housing. 


  • The Inner Residential and Suburban Residential Zones spread out in concentric rings from the central city. 
  • The Central Industrial and Suburban Industrial Zones largely stretch along the railway corridor and main arterial roads from Lyttelton Tunnel to Islington, the Airport and to the Waimakariri bridge. 
  • Urban areas are buffered by significant areas of rural, open space and conservation zones.
Map of land zones

Location of Land Use Zones by Type (excluding Banks Peninsula), 2016


Since the 2010-2011 earthquake series, 960 hectares of land has been rezoned from rural to urban activity zones.

The rural to urban zoning changes include:

  • 807 hectares to Suburban Residential
  • 141 hectares to Suburban Industrial
  • 11 hectares to Suburban Commercial
  • 3 hectares to Conservation

Since the earthquakes, 63 hectares have been rezoned from urban to rural use. Most of this is due to the former Templeton Hospital being rezoned for rural purposes.

Land Use Recovery Plan (LURP)

The rural to urban zoning changes have generally occurred in the south-west (Halswell and Wigram) and northern (Belfast, Prestons, Highfield) parts of the city. These are located in greenfield areas around the edges of Christchurch (and within the surrounding districts) which prior to the earthquakes had been identified for long-term development under the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy (external link) . 

Following the earthquakes, the Greater Christchurch Land Use Recovery Plan (external link)  allowed for the fast-tracking of some previously identified greenfield areas for immediate residential and commercial development.

Some of the greenfield land has already been rezoned to allow for immediate development, while the remainder will be rezoned at a later date once infrastructure planning has taken place. See pages 36-37 of the 2015 LURP monitoring report (external link)  for a map showing the zoning status of these areas, as well as a table showing the availability of greenfield land.

map of greenfield areas

Priority greenfield areas, LURP (page 23)

Information about data used


Small annual variations in area calculations can result from GIS data adjustments. Numbers are rounded, and total annual changes may not add precisely to the sum total. In some cases an area zoned for a particular land use activity may not necessarily be used for that purpose. For example, rural land rezoned for residential purposes may remain in agricultural production until such time as residential development actually occurs.

Source: Christchurch City Council, Christchurch District Plan (external link)


There is sometimes a delay between the date a zoning change becomes operative and the date the GIS layer is updated. Although this is minor, it may have the effect of moving the recorded change to a financial year after which the change actually occurred. This information does not account for zoned areas that are under appeal to either the Christchurch City Council or to the Environment Court. The Environment Court Hearings process, and the timing of its hearings and decisions, are entirely at the discretion of the Court. Areas that result from private plan changes only appear when the zoning has been changed in the City and District Plans.

Source: Christchurch City Council, Christchurch District Plan (external link)