A vibrant central city needs a range of attractions and reasons for people to visit.

A well-formed and vibrant city centre produces economic and social benefits by bringing people together for business, cultural or social activities. The result is greater productivity, connectedness, development of human capital, sharing of ideas and a shared identity.

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Key findings

Non-work visits Increasing trendIncreasingTrend There has been an increase since 2016 in the proportion of residents visiting the central city on a weekly basis for non-work reasons. Further information.
Reason for non-work visits  Snapshot
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In 2018, eating out or going to bars was the main reason given for visiting the central city for non-work purposes. Further information.
Resident satisfaction with the range of things to do  Snapshot
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Almost 90 per cent of respondents agreed that the central city provided a range of restaurants, cafes and bars.

Two thirds of respondents agreed there is a range of things to do in the central city for families/children. Further information.

Tourist satisfaction with the range of things to do  Snapshot
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In 2018, Australian visitors were slightly more satisfied than other international visitors with their overall experience of Christchurch, with an average rating of 8.6 out of 10. Further information.

Visitor accommodation Increasing trendIncreasingTrend

At June 2018 there were 40 commercial accommodation establishments. 16 were motels, 15 were hotels, and 9 were backpackers. Further information.

Guest nights at commercial accommodation Increasing trendIncreasingTrend

The number of guest nights at central city accommodation has increased annually from 227,000 in 2012 to 992,000 in 2017. Further information.

Pedestrian Counts Snapshot
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In January 2018, Cashel Mall (between Ballantynes and the Bridge of Remembrance) had the highest counts of foot traffic out of the key central city sites.

Foot traffic varies by day of the week and time of the day. Further information.

Stationary activity Snapshot
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The most common activities that people do in central city spaces include socialising, observing, shopping and eating. Further information.

Perceptions of safety No trend discernible
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In 2018, 90 per cent of people felt safe in the central city during the day time, which fell to 48 per cent at night.

More than half of those who felt unsafe at night cited the presence of people affected by alcohol/drugs, or other anti-social behaviours. Further information.

Frequency of non-work visits to central city

Residents are visiting the central city for non-work purposes more frequently, as the rebuild continues and there are more things to do and see. In 2018, around 38 per cent of respondents to the Life in Christchurch survey visited the central city once a week or more for non-work purposes, compared with 31 per cent in 2016.

The proportion of respondents who visited two or three times a month remained at around 40 per cent. The proportion who reported they visited the central city less than once a month fell from 26 per cent to 21 per cent between 2016 and 2018. 

Main reason for visiting central city for non-work visits

Eating out or going to bars was the main reason for visiting the central city for non-work purposes, as reported by half of Life in Christchurch survey respondents in 2018.

This was followed by shopping (43 per cent), and visiting attractions (34 per cent) and entertainment venues (27 per cent).

All proportions were lower in 2018 than in 2017, except for those visiting for shopping purposes (an increase of one percentage point).

Range of things to do for locals

The central city must provide a variety of activities, attractions and things to do (e.g. entertainment, shopping, recreational facilities and events) that are appealing to a wide range of people.

In 2018, two thirds of respondents to the Life in Christchurch survey agreed or strongly agreed that the central city provided a range of things to do for everyone, including families and children.

Almost 90 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the central city provided a range of restaurants, cafes and bars, with only 4 per cent disagreeing. This was up from 85 per cent in 2017.

Three quarters of respondents agreed or strongly agreed there was a range of shops, services and entertainment in the central city in 2018. This was up from 62 per cent in 2017.

Just over half (56 per cent) agreed or strongly agreed that there was a range of recreation opportunities in the central city, compared with 52 per cent in 2017.

Just over 40 per cent agreed or strongly agreed there was a range of education facilities in the central city, which was the same proportion as in 2017.

Tourist satisfaction

It can be assumed that most, if not all, tourists visiting Christchurch spent time in the central city. The 2018 ChristchurchNZ Visitor Experience survey found that tourists to Christchurch were generally satisfied with their overall experience in Christchurch city.

Domestic tourists and Australian visitors rated their overall experience an average of 8.6 out of 10, compared with 8.4 out of 10 for other international visitors. These ratings were all higher than in 2016, with international visitors increasing from 7.9 to 8.4, domestic visitors increasing from 8.3 to 8.6 and Australian visitors increasing from 8.5 to 8.6 out of 10.

The City's activities and attractions, of which many are located within the central city, were rated highest by domestic and Australian visitors (8.3 out of 10), and lowest by other international visitors (8.1 out of 10). Again, each of these ratings increased from 2016, with other international visitors having the largest increase (from 7.6 to 8.3 out of 10).

In 2018, bars, restaurants and cafes were rated at 8.3 out of 10 by domestic and Australian visitors, increasing from 7.9 and 8.2 respectively in 2016. Once again, other international visitors had the largest increase in ratings, going from 7.6 in 2016 to 8.1 in 2018.

Commercial visitor accommodation

The 2010–2011 Canterbury Earthquakes Sequence had a severe impact on the central city's commercial accommodation establishments. Nearly all were inaccessible for many months due to the central city cordon, some needed repair work, and some required demolition. The accommodation stock was drastically reduced from 62 to 23 between June 2010 and June 2012.

At June 2018, there were 40 commercial establishments located in the central city, which was 19 per cent of the City's total commercial accommodation stock. Prior to the earthquakes, around one quarter of the City's stock was located within the central city Avenues, and this fell to a low of 13 per cent in 2012.

In 2018, there were 15 hotels in the central city. These made up around half of the City's hotel stock, which is similar to the pre-earthquake proportion.

There were 16 motels in the central city in 2018, which made up around 11 per cent of the City's motel stock. Once again, this is similar to the pre-earthquake proportion.

Central city backpackers were particularly affected by the earthquakes, as they tended to be located centrally in older and cheaper buildings. In 2018 there were 9 backpacker establishments in the central city, compared with 19 before the earthquakes. Central city backpackers made up 34 per cent of the City's backpackers stock in 2018, compared with 60 per cent before the earthquakes. 

Airbnb and other informal accommodation providers have become an increasingly important part of the City's visitor accommodation supply. However, this dataset only includes commercial providers and does not include hosted or other informal accommodation.

Guest nights at commercial visitor accommodation

In 2018 there were 992,000 guest nights at central city commercial accommodation establishments, which was a 30 per cent increase from the previous year. The number of guest nights at central city accommodation establishments fell from 1.7 million per year in 2010 to 227,000 in 2012. This figure has increased annually since.

The impact was greatest for the hotel sector, falling from just over 1.1 million guest nights in 2010 to 50,000 in 2012. For the year ending June 2018, there were 711,000 guest nights at hotels, making up 72 per cent of all commercial guest nights in the central city for 2018.

The number of backpacker establishments in the central city fell from 19 to six between 2010 and 2012. As a result, guest nights fell from 435,000 in 2010 to 67,000 in 2012. In 2018, there were 168,000 guest nights at central city backpackers.

Once again, this data excludes Airbnb and other informal accommodation providers, which have become an increasingly important part of the City's visitor accommodation supply.

Pedestrian Counts

Pedestrian activity counts were undertaken at 15 key central city sites in January 2018, over four days between the hours of 8am and 6pm.

Location-wise, the highest amount of foot traffic in the central city was observed in the few blocks south of Cathedral Square.

Cashel Mall (between Ballantynes department store and the Bridge of Remembrance on Oxford Terrace) had the highest recorded amount of foot traffic in 2018. During each two hour period, an average of 2067 pedestrians were observed outside of Ballantynes (an average of 17 per minute), while further down Cashel Mall at the corner of Oxford Terrace, there was an average of 15 pedestrians per minute.

Colombo Street between Cathedral Square and Lichfield Street (by the bus exchange) had the next highest counts, where foot traffic averaged between 10 and 12 pedestrians per minute.

The day of the week and time of day is an important component of foot traffic. None of the 15 sites had their highest levels of foot traffic before noon.

During week days, at 11 of the 15 sites, the lunch period between midday to 2pm resulted in the highest amount of foot traffic. The exceptions were the Crossing (by the Fresh Choice supermarket entrance) which had its busiest periods between 2pm and 6pm; Armagh Street (by the Piano) which was busiest between 2pm and 4pm; and Cathedral Square, which was busiest between 4pm and 6pm.

Friday tended to be the busiest days for most sites, with 11 sites recording their highest averages on this day. In particular, Cashel Mall (outside of Ballantynes) recorded an average of 2,743 pedestrians during a 2-hour period. Tuesday tended to be the next busiest day for foot traffic at most sites. Armagh Street (by the Piano) was the only site which recorded its highest pedestrian counts on a Sunday.

Stationary activity

In order to understand how public places are used and what type of activities are taking place, a public space stationary activity survey was developed by the Christchurch City Council. This differs to counts of how many people area passing through the space. During January 2017, the types of activities and interactions of 5,400 people in the central city were observed at 17 key sites, and up to two activities for each person were recorded.

Socialising with others was the most common type of activity undertaken in the central city, with around half of people observed doing this. The next most common activities were people observing others/things/sites, eating, and people using their phones.

Overall, sites were busiest between midday and 1.30pm, and all types of activities peaked during this period, except for recreation activities which peaked between 1.30pm and 3pm. All sites had the least activity taking place between 8am and 10am.

Cashel Mall (West) and Cathedral Square sites were observed having the most activities taking place, particularly with large groups socialising, observing, shopping and eating. Typically, where there are cafes and food, there are more people using spaces. Some of the most unused sites included Latimer Square, the Arts Centre Market Square, and the Art Gallery area. 

Safety during the day and at night

The 2018 Life in Christchurch survey found around 90 per cent of residents felt safe in the central city during the day in 2018 (52 per cent felt 'very safe' and 38 per cent felt 'fairly safe'). This was unchanged from the 2017 survey.

Perceptions of safety were much lower at night. After dark, 48 per cent felt safe (8 per cent felt 'very safe' and 40 per cent felt 'fairly safe) in 2018, the same proportion as in 2017.

This was slightly higher than the 44 per cent who felt unsafe (33 per cent felt 'a bit unsafe' and 11 per cent felt 'very unsafe').People reported feeling unsafe in the central city at night largely due to perceptions around unsafe people or unsafe environments.

In 2018, of those who indicated that they felt unsafe after dark, the most common reasons for feeling like this was due to people under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol (57 per cent of those who felt unsafe at night), anti-social behaviour (52 per cent) and isolated areas (47 per cent). These results were all slightly improved from 2017.

There was a large increase in the proportion of respondents citing the presence of beggars and homeless people in the streets as a reason for feeling unsafe at night. In 2018, 33 per cent of respondents said people begging made them feel unsafe at night, compared with 24 per cent in 2017. Similarly, the proportion who reported homeless people caused them to feel unsafe increased from 27 per cent to 38 per cent.