At June 2018, the city had an estimated 388,500 residents. This is an increase of 63,800 since 1996.

The earthquakes had an immediate effect on Christchurch City's population, with an estimated 20,000 leaving the city in the first two years.

Many stayed within the Greater Christchurch area, and moved beyond the City's boundaries to neighbouring Selwyn and Waimakariri.

Topic Status Key findings
Size of the city's population Increasing trendIncreasingTrend

At June 2018, Christchurch City had an estimated population(external link) of 388,500.

This was an increase of 7000 from the previous year. Further information.

Population change since the earthquakes Increasing trendIncreasingTrend

In the two years following the 2010/2011 earthquakes, the overall population of Christchurch City decreased by 21,200 (-6%) to 355,100.

In 2017, the population surpassed the pre-earthquake population figure for the first time. Further information.

Annual average rate of growth Increasing trendIncreasingTrend Between 2017 and 2018, the City's population increased by 1.8%, slightly lower than the national average of 1.9%. Further information.
Surrounding districts Increasing trendIncreasingTrend

Neighbouring Selwyn and Waimakariri Districts had a combined population of 122,900 in 2018.

Combined the population growth was 4,300 new residents, compared with Christchurch City's 7000 new residents in the year to June 2018.

In the year to June 2018, Selwyn's population increased by 4.8%, while Waimakariri's increased by 2.4% – both higher than Christchurch City's rate of 1.8%. Further information.

Population counts

The most recent population estimate for Christchurch City was 388,500 residents (June 2018). This is higher than the 2018 census count of 369,000 for several reasons.(external link) Population estimates are produced annually and include residents not counted on census day (e.g. temporarily overseas), and also include population growth since census day.

Christchurch contains approximately 8% of the country's estimated 4.8 million residents, and 76% of the combined population of Christchurch City, Selwyn District and Waimakariri District.

Selwyn and Waimakariri districts both recorded identical population estimates in 2017 (59,300). In 2018, Selwyn's population surpassed Waimakariri's for the first time ever at 62,700, which was 500 more than Waimakariri's population.

Combined, the two districts make up 24% of the Greater Christchurch population. This proportion has been increasing every year since 1992 when it was only 14%.

Important note: Census EXCLUDES residents temporarily overseas on census night. Estimates are based on the census and INCLUDE net census undercount, residents temporarily overseas on census day, as well as births, deaths and net migration since the last estimate. Further information here(external link).

Sub-city population

Population change since the earthquakes

The 2010/2011 Canterbury Earthquake Sequence resulted in unprecedented population movements out of Christchurch City. The city's population decreased by 14,000 between 2010 and 2011, and by a further 7,200 people between 2011 and 2012.  The combined loss of 21,200 people equated to around 6% of the city's pre-earthquake population.

As the earthquakes decreased in frequency and intensity, housing supply slowly increased, and rebuild employment opportunities presented themselves, Christchurch City's population rebounded. The estimated population has increased annually since July 2012, averaging 1.5% growth per annum (5600 people per year).

In June 2017, Christchurch City's population reached 381,500 and exceeded pre-quake levels for the first time. It has since increased to 388,500 at June 2018.

Many former Christchurch residents resettled in the neighbouring districts of Selwyn and Waimakariri, which has contributed to their post-earthquake population increases. Since 2010, Selwyn's population has increased by 21,300 and Waimakariri's population by 13,100 (compared with Christchurch City's overall increase of 12,200 since 2010).

Of the people who lived in the Greater Christchurch area in 2008, nearly 90% still lived there five years later.

Growth rates

Prior to the earthquakes, population growth in Christchurch City was relatively steady, averaging 1.2% per annum between 2001 and 2010. In the first year after the earthquake the city's population fell by around 4%, and fell by a further 2% the following year.

Between 2017 and 2018, the city's population increased by 1.8%, while the national average increase was 1.9%.

Selwyn and Waimakariri districts had each been experiencing much higher growth rates than Christchurch in the two decades before the earthquakes, and these higher rates have continued since the earthquakes.

Between 2017 and 2018, Selwyn and Waimakariri experienced the third and fourteenth fastest growth in the country respectively (out of 67 territorial authorities). Selwyn district's annual increase was 4.8% while Waimakariri district's was 2.4%.

* This graph shows significant change for Selwyn and Waimakariri Districts in 1996 and 2006. Errors accumulate over time(external link) and are most evident the year before a census. Intercensal population estimates start with a census base and use administrative data sources to estimate population change over time. These intercensal estimates are known to become less certain the further one moves from census, especially at the more detailed sub-national geographies.


Further information

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