Overview of historic and future population growth, migration, and location of population.

The overall size and location of a population has a major impact on the city. It directly affects land use patterns, air quality, solid waste generation and water quality.

It can also influence the size and composition of the labour force, place pressure on existing social services and recreational facilities, and alter demand for goods and services.

Population change

Please select one date range at a time to view the population change. 

Map Listing

Current Population – Christchurch, Waimakariri and Selwyn

At June 2017 Christchurch City's estimated resident population was 381,500. This is higher than before the earthquakes, and is an increase of 6,500 people from June 2016.

Between 2016 and 2017 the city's estimated population increased by 1.7 per cent, slightly lower than the national average of 2.1 per cent.

Prior to the 2010/2011 earthquakes, population growth was relatively steady, averaging 1 per cent growth per year. In the two years following the 2010/2011 earthquakes, the overall population of Christchurch City decreased by 21,200 (-6 per cent). The estimated population has increased annually since July 2012 and has now surpassed the population prior to the earthquake series (376,300).

Estimated annual population since 1986

Estimated annual population since 1986


Annual numeric population change since 1986

Annual numeric population change since 1986 

Waimakariri and Selwyn districts

Waimakairi District has long been the more populated district out of Christchurch City's two neighbouring districts. At June 2017, Christchurch's other neighbouring district Selwyn equalled Waimakariri's population; each had an estimated 59,300 residents.  Together they make up almost 25 per cent of the total population of all three districts in Greater Christchurch

Between 2016 and 2017, Selwyn and Waimakariri Districts experienced the second and eleventh fastest growth in the country respectively (out of 67 territorial authorities). Selwyn District's annual increase was 5.7 per cent while Waimakariri District's was 2.5 per cent (compared with 2.1 per cent for the whole country). Combined the population growth was 4,500 new residents, compared with Christchurch City's 6,500 new residents. 

Location of residents

In Christchurch City, the area units (suburbs) with the highest population density in 2013 were located near the university (Riccarton, Upper Riccarton, Ilam); just north of the central city (Edgeware and St Albans); and just east of the central city (Linwood).

Outside of Christchurch City, the townships of Rangiora and Kaiapoi (Waimakariri District) and Rolleston (Selwyn District) were the most densely populated areas of their respective districts.

map of population density

Population density by area unit (suburb), 2013

Earthquake impacts

Between 2006 and 2013, area units in the Greater Christchurch area experienced significant changes in population due to two key factors: the 2010–2011 earthquakes, and new housing developments in formerly rural-zoned greenfield areas.

Population loss:
The areas that experienced the greatest losses of population are those associated with the residential red zone in Christchurch (predominantly located along the Avon River- starting within the Four Avenues and leading out to the Estuary- as well as parts of the Port Hills) and in Waimakariri (by the Kaiapoi River). The area units with the greatest numeric loss of population were Avondale, Burwood, Bexley and Dallington– each losing over 1700 people. Three area units (Burwood, Cathedral Square and Kaiapoi East) each lost over half of their 2006 population.

Population gain:
Rapid population growth has occurred in greenfield areas on the outskirts of the city. Some area units more than doubled their 2006 population, including Aidanfield and Yaldhurst in Christchurch City; Rolleston North West and Rolleston South West in Selwyn District; and Pegasus, Camside and Lehmans in Waimakariri District. Other Christchurch City area units with high numeric gains in population were Wigram and Belfast South– with each gaining over 1000 people between 2006 and 2013. 

map showing population change by area unit (suburb)

Numeric population change by area unit (suburb), 2006–2013

Migration to Christchurch

The earthquakes resulted in a net loss of around 20,000 migrants, but the city's ongoing recovery and rebuild opportunities have since resulted in net migration gains.

Overall migration

Prior to the 2010–2011 earthquake series, migration contributed to the majority of population growth in the city. In the five years to 30 June 2006, it is estimated the population increased by 26,500 residents. Almost 70 per cent of this was due to net migration gains (18,100 residents), while the remainder was due to natural increase. Following the earthquakes, Christchurch had a net migration loss of 21,000 people (in the five years to 30 June 2013).

As the city recovers, migration gains will once again be greater than the losses, with a projected net gain of 22,500 migrants for the period 2013 to 2018. A further net gain of 12,500 migrants is projected between 2018 and 2023, before stabilising a