At a glance 

This is an infographic showing statistics for the region of Waitaha Canterbury. It includes information about the population in 2018, projected population in 2048, Māori population and percentage of overall regional population in 2018, a list of iwi and h

Arataki Waitaha – Canterbury regional direction [PDF, 2.2 MB]

Arataki Waitaha – Canterbury statistics table - infographic alternative [PDF, 114 KB]

The September 2023 v1.1 release of Arataki includes updates to reflect the severe weather events of 2023 and make minor corrections.

Waitaha Canterbury is the largest geographic region in Aotearoa New Zealand. It dominates the South Island economy and is home to over half its population.

Christchurch International Airport is the main gateway to the South Island for international visitors. Ports in Ōhinehou Lyttelton and Te Tihi-o-Maru Timaru, and an inland port at Tauwharekākaho Rolleston, are the nucleus of the region’s freight system. State Highway 1 links to Waitohi Picton and the Interislander ferry to the north and Ōtākou Otago to the south. Waitaha provides critical lifelines, freight, and tourist routes to Te Tai o Poutini West Coast across the Southern Alps.

Most people in the region live in the Greater Christchurch area, which is also where most future growth is forecast. The region’s population is expected to grow from 650,000 to about 780,000 by 2048. Following a series of major earthquakes, growth patterns in Greater Christchurch over the past decade have created several transport challenges.

Despite high rates of cycling, the urban area remains car dependent. Three essential initiatives can help address this high-car reliance and enable Greater Christchurch to reduce transport emissions:

  • joint spatial planning with local government and other partners
  • continued rollout of high-quality cycling networks
  • implementation of aspirational public transport plans.

Waitaha has work to do to improve a poor road safety record. Safety improvement efforts should focus around the urban area of Ōtautahi Christchurch and SH1 between Ōtautahi and Te Tihi-o-Maru, where there are high-risk rural roads and motorcycle routes.

Resilience is also a key focus, with Waitaha vulnerable to frequent and intense storms, sea level rise, flooding, and wildfires. Seismic risk is also considerable given the region’s proximity to the Alpine Fault.

Focusing our efforts 

The transport challenges for Waitaha Canterbury need to be tackled in a cohesive way for efficient and effective progress. The directions below identify the most important issues to be resolved over the next 10 years to make progress towards transport outcomes.

  • Support, enable, and encourage growth and development in areas that have good travel choices and shorter average trip lengths through the Greater Christchurch Partnership and spatial planning work.
  • Accelerate the delivery of walking and cycling networks predominantly through reshaping existing streets, to make these options safe and attractive.
  • Implement the Public Transport Futures programme, starting with bus services and infrastructure improvements; confirm the design and timing of rapid transit along the corridors in the north and southwest of Greater Christchurch.
  • Explore new and emerging technologies, such as on-demand services, to improve access to social and economic opportunities.
  • Better understand the impact of future economic transformation on travel patterns and freight volumes.
  • Explore opportunities to move to a more multimodal freight system with greater use of rail and coastal shipping.
  • Confirm how key resilience risks will be addressed over time, and work with communities to identify plans for when to defend, accommodate, or retreat.
  • Continue to implement road safety plans and programmes including those focused for iwi Māori.
  • Improve or maintain, as appropriate, physical access to marae, papakāinga, wāhi tapu and wāhi taonga.
  • Reduce financial and other barriers to iwi Māori getting a driver’s licence in areas not well served by public transport.

These will be updated over time to focus effort on the most critical matters.  

Arataki Waitaha – Canterbury regional direction [PDF, 2.2 MB]