Project updated: 04/09/2017
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Te Papa Ōtākaro / Avon River Precinct
A new city waterfront has been created along the Ōtākaro/Avon River in the central city to make it easier to access river front businesses and green spaces.
A key feature is the new City Promenade (opened November 2018) extending two kilometres through the heart of the precinct on the eastern side of the river, replacing Oxford Terrace. The western side of the river has become a green space with walking and cycling paths.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has profiled the Te Papa Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct programme in this case study for planning professionals.
- 2013: The first improvements to the riverside landscape were completed with the Watermark project, near the Antigua Boatsheds
- 2014: The restoration of the habitat of the Ōtākaro/Avon River waterway
- 2015: Margaret Mahy Family Playground was completed
- 2016: The Bridge of Remembrance restoration was completed
- 2016: The Terraces between Cashel Mall and Hereford Street opened in June 2016
- 2016: The second phase of the Terraces, either side of Worcester Street, including a new punt stop were completed in December 2016
- 2016: The PGC building site landscaping was completed in December 2016
- 2018: The Victoria Square restoration was completed in March 2018
- 2018: The City Promenade, a broad paved area on the eastern side of the river between Christchurch Hospital and Margaret Mahy Family Playground opened in November 2018
- 2018: The North Frame was completed.
- 2019: The Avon Loop upgrade was completed in February 2020.
- 2021: The North Frame Pedestrian Bridge is being constructed.
The ‘Share an Idea’ public consultation process highlighted the importance of the Ōtākaro/Avon River to the people of Christchurch. The Central Christchurch Recovery Plan identified the Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct as a significant Anchor Project that will improve people’s connections with the river.
Who else is involved?
Christchurch City Council and Matapopore Charitable Trust have been key partners in the project.
40 stakeholder groups were consulted during the development of the design.
The Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct development is largely being funded by the Crown.
Ngāi Tahu Grand Narrative
This Grand Narrative (18M file) documents the Ngāi Tahu values, customs and traditions relevant to the Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct area.
Healthy River and Landscape
Fish are thriving, the water is flowing faster and the riverbed is cleaner in the Ōtākaro/Avon River following this extensive cleaning and rehabilitation work. The clean-up, which included the removal of 10,000 tonnes of silt, has re-established habitats for animals living in and on the river in the central city. Deepening the riverbed in some areas has also allowed Christchurch’s iconic punts to extend their river route.
Restoring the landscape
Intensive landscape enhancement is being undertaken along the Ōtākaro/Avon River. This began with an assessment of about 750 trees in conjunction with Christchurch City Council, to determine their health and likely lifespan. The existing canopy of trees along the Avon River will be retained, with new exotic and native trees and shrubs introduced to add to its distinctive character. The planting and management of indigenous and exotic plants has been combined in the uniquely Christchurch Garden City style – enhancing its natural character by weaving Māori and Pākehā values together into the landscape.
The Watermark project set out to enhance the river environment between Antigua Boatsheds and Montreal Street and improve access to this section of the river.
It was the first project of the Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct to be completed and provided an indication of how other river precinct elements would look. Watermark began to deliver on the community's aspirations for a 'green city' and aligned with the broad design principles of the Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct:
- promoting a healthy river
- a fully accessible environment
- an integrated cultural narrative
- good economic potential.
The construction of Watermark on the northern bank involved a slight narrowing of the river, with landscaping and re-contouring to shape the new space. There is now improved seating, new boardwalks and street furniture, and better lighting.
Bridge of Remembrance
Strengthening work on the Triumphal Arch and the Bridge of Remembrance foundation structure was completed at the end of September 2015. New paving was then installed on the bridge, along with a ramp to improve accessibility, and lighting to highlight the Triumphal Arch. Two Ngā Whāriki Manaaki stone weaving patterns were also installed.
Once primarily for vehicles, Oxford Terrace, on the east side of the river has become a broad, paved area. Whether people are walking, biking, driving, taking the tram or enjoying café-style seating, this space is shared by all. Speed is restricted to 10kmh along the City Promenade with pedestrians and cyclists taking priority.
The promenade extends two kilometres from Christchurch Hospital to the Margaret Mahy Family Playground.
Together with the City Promenade, The Terraces are transforming the waterfront into an area for leisure and entertainment. The flights of broad steps leading down to the river make the most of the waterside location. People can get close to the water, go for a walk, or enjoy a meal or a drink in the outdoors.
The aim is to make a place for gathering and hospitality – a sunny, sheltered area during the day and an appealing area for entertainment at night. The first section of the Terraces and the City Promenade, between Cashel Street and Hereford Street, was completed in June 2016.
There will be literary, sculptural and environmental art pieces, in a range of forms: integrated landscape elements, relocated pieces and artwork infrastructure. This includes bespoke landscape works – designs that have a functional purpose but are led by an artist.
Many of the surfaces and structures in Victoria Square were damaged during the Canterbury earthquakes and were already close to the end of their life. This project restored the square and made it more accessible. The restoration design created new links with nearby features like the Promenade and included new elements that better reflect shared Māori and European heritage and the Treaty relationship. The historic Bowker Fountain, which hasn't worked properly for many years, has been fully restored, and a new punt stop has been added opposite the Town Hall. You can read more about the restoration in the Fact Sheet.
The North Frame will be a mix of residential and public space spanning both sides of the river between Colombo and Madras Streets. The Promenade on the Oxford Terrace side of the river will continue through to Manchester Street, while a cycle path will complement grassed areas on the northern bank.
Key features include:
- landscaping on the PGC site in consultation with bereaved families
- residential development on the eastern side of Manchester Street (as part of the East Frame residential precinct)
- a Community Garden and orchard reflecting the principle of healthy mahinga kai The Community Garden is the first project to get underway. The land has been made available to the Food Resilience Network for a community garden and food hub that will be known as Ōtākaro Orchard
- a North Frame pedestrian bridge.
Margaret Mahy Family Playground
The Margaret Mahy Family Playground is Christchurch's popular new central city play area. With separate activity zones for different ages, it's one of the largest playgrounds in the Southern Hemisphere.
Opened in December 2015, the playground was designed with accessibility in mind. The objective was that children could interact side by side, rather than singling out an area or specific equipment for children with disabilites. All the slopes and surfacing have been designed to meet accessibility standards – a 1:12 maximum gradient – for children or adults in wheelchairs.
Ownership of the playground has been transferred to Christchurch City Council.
Central Christchurch’s first dedicated canoe and kayak launching ramp is now ready for use as part of Ōtākaro Limited’s upgrade of the Avon Loop riverside. A new pedestrian and cycle-friendly path and boardwalk have also been incorporated into the section of Oxford Terrace, between Willow and Kilmore Streets.
Avon Loop Treasure Hunt entry form
Prizes are a $500 Paddler Zone kayak package (two to be won) or a $750 EVO Cycles voucher. Plus if you email us a photo of you completing the treasure hunt you could win a $50 Pomeroy’s voucher!Read More
North Frame pedestrian bridge construction underway
The 32-metre-long, 3.5-metre-wide bridge sits on a naturally desirable crossing point along the Promenade so it will make the journey easier for people heading to or from the north of the city or theRead More
Avon Loop pathway open
Central Christchurch’s first dedicated canoe and kayak launching ramp is now ready for use as part of Ōtākaro Limited’s upgrade of the Avon Loop riverside.Read More
Documents & Downloads
Avon Loop fact sheet - August 2019
5.1 MB Uploaded 16/10/2019 3:03pm
Avon Loop overview map - August 2019
4.4 MB Uploaded 16/10/2019 3:06pm
Avon River Precinct fact sheet - Autumn 2017
5.4 MB Uploaded 17/02/2017 1:21pm
Victoria Square Restoration Fact Sheet - January 2017
9.7 MB Uploaded 18/01/2017 10:34am
Avon River Precinct Teaching Resource
4 KB Uploaded