The Promenade from above The Promenade from above
November 2021 November 2021
Bowker Fountain at night Bowker Fountain at night
November 2021 November 2021
The Terraces The Terraces
Bowker Fountain Bowker Fountain
Bowker Fountain at night Bowker Fountain at night
A punt passing the Terraces A punt passing the Terraces
Worcester East terrace Worcester East terrace
Ngā Whāriki Manaaki (stone weaving patterns) Ngā Whāriki Manaaki (stone weaving patterns)
The "Tower of Terror" The "Tower of Terror"
The Terraces The Terraces
Watermark Watermark
New seating at The Terraces New seating at The Terraces

Project updated: 04/09/2017

Te Papa Ōtākaro / Avon River Precinct
Project Stage: Construction

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.




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.

More Information
  • 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.

  • Watermark

    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.

  • City Promenade

    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.

  • The Terraces

    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.

  • Landscape Art

    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.

  • Victoria Square

    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.

  • North Frame

    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.

  • Avon Loop

    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.

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