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 2017, the total area of all land use activity zones in Christchurch City was 148,300 hectares.

Zone Types

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

Zone type by number of hectares, 2011-2017

Zone type by number of hectares, 2011-2017

  • Note the 2017 figures in the above table are based on the replacement District Plan, while 2016 and earlier figures were based on the zoning pattern of the former Christchurch City Plan.
  • The majority (80%) of the Christchurch City's zoned land area was zoned for non-urban uses; predominantly for rural, open space, transport and special purpose (e.g. Māori customary land, golf resorts). Most non-urban zoned land was located in Banks Peninsula, the Port Hills, or the outskirts of the city. 
  • Around 30,000 hectares (20%) were zoned for urban purposes, with the majority being for urban open space (13,000 ha) and residential (11,500 ha). Other types of urban zoning include special purpose (e.g. education, hospitals, airport and port, residential red zone, cemeteries etc) and commercial and industrial.


  • Residential zones spread out in concentric rings from the central city. 
  • Mixed Use zones are found in the central city and allow for a diverse and compatible mix of activities, such as residential, retail, office, commercial, light service industry and other business activities.
  • 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 and open space zones.
Map of land zones

Location of Land Use Zones by Type (excluding Banks Peninsula), 2017


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

Before rural land can be used for housing, it must first be rezoned within the Christchurch City Plan from rural to residential or living zone through a Plan Change. The plan change process can be found online.

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)