A strong economy is generally regarded as necessary for improving quality of life. It is expected that cities will need adaptive, resilient, and more diverse economies in the future to thrive in a rapidly changing global environment.

 What this means for our district

  • Christchurch has globally competitive businesses driving exports and generating wealth
  • Christchurch is recognised as the global gateway to the South Island and Antarctica
  • There is adequate and appropriate land for commercial, industrial and agricultural use

How we are contributing

Our primary contribution to Christchurch's economic base is ensuring the city has the right infrastructure in place to support a broad based 21st century economy. The Lyttelton Port Company(external link) and Christchurch International Airport(external link) are crucial links for trade and tourism. Ensuring good transport links and adequate zoning for different land uses also provides a solid base for the economy.

How you can help

Support businesses in Christchurch.

How we are doing

Status What do we want to achieve? What has happened?
Positive result
Canterbury gross domestic product (GDP)

Since 2010, GDP in Canterbury has increased by 46 per cent, compared with the national increase of 30 per cent. Further information.

Positive result

Value of export goods from Lyttelton Port and Christchurch Airport

Value of exports through Lyttelton Port are 28 per cent higher than before the earthquakes. 

Exports through Christchurch Airport have increased by 42 per cent since the earthquakes. Further information.

Mixed result
Indeterminate Result

Business diversity

Business diversity has stayed relatively constant since 2000, with 24 per cent of employment in the 10 largest level 4 ANZSIC industry groups, However the proportion in the largest 20 industrial groups has increased from 33 to 36 per cent. Further information.

Positive result
Regional tourism spend

Tourism spend in the ChristchurchNZ regional tourism organisation area has increased by 40 per cent since 2009, to $2.64 billion dollars in the year to March 2017. Further information.

Negative result
Proportion of South Island passenger movements Since Queenstown airport started international commercial flights in 2009, the proportion of international passengers through Christchurch Airport decreased from 92 per cent to 74 per cent in 2016. Further information.
Positive result
Vacant industrial land Christchurch currently has 925 hectares of vacant industrial land at June 2018. This is 2.7 times more than at June 2006. Further information.
Negative result
Rural versatile soils As a result of urbanising rural land, around 1,400 hectares, or 17.5 per cent, of moderately or highly versatile soils have been lost since 1995. Further information.

Canterbury gross domestic product (GDP)

Canterbury's GDP was $34 billion in the year to March 2017. This was an increase of 260 per cent since 2000. Canterbury's GDP makes up 12.9 per cent of the national GDP, which is slightly higher than the proportion of 11.6 per cent in 2000.

In 2016, the key industries contributing to Canterbury's GDP were manufacturing (13 per cent) and construction (11 per cent). The industrial group with the greatest growth since 2000 was construction, followed by professional, scientific and technical services.

Exports from Lyttelton Port and Christchurch Airport

For the year to June 2017, exports leaving via Lyttelton Port were valued at $4.8 billion, while exports leaving via Christchurch airport were valued at $1.8 billion.

Compared with pre-earthquake values, exports through Lyttelton have increased by 28 per cent, up from $3.7 billion in 2010. Lyttelton exports peaked in 2014 at $6.9 billion, before declining to its current value.

Airport exports experienced a significant peak in the year to June 2012, probably as a result of the earthquakes. Excluding this peak, airport exports have grown by 42 per cent from pre-earthquake values of $1.3 billion in 2010.

Business diversity

The largest ten level 4 ANZSIC industries in Christchurch employed 23 per cent of the city's employees in 2000. This has increased slightly to 24 per cent at February 2017.

The largest 20 industries employed around one third of the employment in the city from 2000 to 2008. Between 2008 and 2013, this proportion increased to 36 per cent. 

Since 2013, the proportion of the city's employment in the top 10 and top 20 industries has remained constant. The top three industries are hospitals (excluding psychiatric), cafes and restaurants, and supermarket and grocery stores.

Regional tourism spend

The earthquakes had a significant effect on tourism spending in the region. Spending in ChristchurchNZ RTO (includes Christchurch, Selwyn, Waimak, Ashburton and Hurunui) fell from $2.37 billion in 2009 to $1.89 million in 2012. Overall spending has increased annually since 2012, and reached $2.64 billion for the year to March 2017.

Domestic tourism expenditure was less impacted by the earthquakes, falling by $57 million between 2011 and 2012 (a decrease of 4 per cent). By 2013, domestic spending had recovered and exceeded pre-quake spending levels, and has increased each year since. In 2017, domestic tourists spent $1.67 billion locally, which was 63 per cent of total tourist spending.

International tourism expenditure was more impacted by the earthquakes, falling by $257 million between 2011 and 2012 (a 30 per cent decrease). This reflected the downward trend in international arrivals during this period.

It was only in 2016 that spending levels exceeded pre-quake levels, and in 2017 total international expenditure was $972 million

Proportion of South Island visitors

Passenger movements at Christchurch Airport have increased since the earthquakes and are at their highest levels on record. However, as a proportion of all travellers flying in and out of South Island airports, those arriving at or departing from Christchurch Airport is decreasing.

In 2005, around 92 per cent of the South Island's international passengers were travelling via Christchurch Airport. By 2016, this had decreased to 74 per cent. This reflects the growing importance of Australian tourism for Queenstown, as Australian flights are the only international route to and from Queenstown Airport. Queenstown Airport expanded its international terminal in 2015, and in 2016 introduced after-dark international flights, allowing for more visitors.

Between 2005 and 2016, the proportion of domestic passengers flying to the South Island via Christchurch Airport has decreased (out of the three largest airports), falling from 78 per cent to 69 per cent of the South Island's share.

Vacant industrial land

At June 2018, Christchurch had 925 hectares of vacant industrial zoned land. Vacant industrial land had been declining since 2000, to reach a low point in 2005 of 350 hectares. Since then, a number of City Plan changes and then the District Plan Review have added areas of industrial land around the edges of the city.

Vacant industrial land peaked in June 2017 at 950 hectares.

Rural versatile soils

One of the consequences of continual urban growth around the margins of the urbanised part of Christchurch is the conversion of rural land to urban uses. Some rural land has greater value for its ability to be used for horticultural purposes i.e. its versatility. Ideally, land that has been urbanised for housing or business activities should be land that has lower versatility.

Since 1995, areas of moderately or highly versatile rural land in Christchurch (excluding Banks Peninsula) have decreased by 17.5 per cent -  from 7,988 to 6,590 hectares (or a loss of 1,398 hectares).

Lower quality rural soils have decreased by the same rate (17.5 per cent) but due to the larger amount of this land, it has resulted in a greater loss of 2,200 hectares (from 12,566 to 10,366 hectares).