Public transport in Christchurch

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Locale New Zealand
Service area Christchurch
Service type Bus services
Fuel type Diesel, biodiesel
Operator Red Bus Ltd
Go Bus Christchurch
Black Cat Ltd[1]
Metrocard issued by Environment Canterbury for use on Metro services
MetroSticki (mobile version) issued by Environment Canterbury for use on Metro services

Public transport in Christchurch, New Zealand consists of bus services operated by two bus companies (who win a renewable tender process) supported by a ferry, all jointly marketed as Metro.


Since deregulation of the urban bus market in 1991 the Canterbury Regional Council (now branded Environment Canterbury) has taken responsibility for the tendering, planning and administration of public transport in Christchurch. Over the course of that time improvements and changes have shaped the predominantly bus based public transport system including the introduction of services such as the Orbiter. Originally branded as CanRide this was replaced in 2003 with the introduction of the Metro brand and the eventual Metrocard.

Ticketing and fares are, with some exceptions, standard across the city's network. The electronic Metrocard provides a discount off regular fares. Students receive a discount, and senior citizens travel free on off-peak services (9:00am to 2:30pm and after 6:30pm weekdays, all day weekends).

'Real-time' bus arrival times are displayed on electronic displays at bus stops, online and mobile (cellphone) WAP.

The 2011 earthquake resulted in significant changes to the Metro bus network with the two key changes. The first change was the removal and or reorganization of many routes due to road damage along routes or reduced patronage. The second change occurred in December 2012 with the shift of the bus network from a radial network to a hub and spoke model network. This resulted in many services being localized to hubs with connecting core services into the Central City and Cross Town.


The local bus service is marketed as Metro and designed, specified, put out to tender and subsidised by Environment Canterbury. All bus operators are required to display the required external Metro branding to vehicles under contract to Ecan.

Christchurch City Council provides roading infrastructure and street furniture such as signs and seats and regulates parking at bus stops, and is also owner of Red Bus Ltd through its holding company Christchurch City Holdings. The city council previously funded the zero-fare The Shuttle service which ended after the 2011 earthquake.

The city council provided the previous central city Bus Exchange in November 2000 which was damaged and closed after the 2011 earthquake. The previous Bus Exchange in the city centre served as the chief bus interchange point and passenger hub for the Metro network. The Exchange had attracted interest from other worldwide city authorities investigating how to improve their bus services. Since the Bus Exchange opened in 2000, the number of people using the bus service has doubled.

After two separate temporary central city facilities on the outer fringes of the CBD bus services shifted to the new Central Station back on Lichfield street which serves as a longer term temporary city bus stop.

The Christchurch City Council also provides bus lanes which operational during peak commuting hours on some routes. The routes have been controversial with some business owners concerned at the loss of parking from outside their businesses during the lanes operational times, but the lanes have improved bus travel times, schedule adherence and have resulted in an increase in passenger numbers.

Vehicle safety standards are regulated by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Suburban bus services[edit]

The new Central Station replaced the two temporary bus exchanges which had replaced the city's damaged Bus Xchange. The new exchange is located between Lichfield Street and Tuam Street and will operate for up to two years. The Link Shuttle service which linked the two temporary exchanges has now been terminated.

The following services are operated under the Metro brand.

# Route Name Start Major destinations End Timetable Notes
B Blueline Princess Margaret Hospital Colombo Street, Central Station, Papanui Road, Northlands Mall, Belfast, Kaiapoi Rangiora [1] Bike-icon.svg
Every other service Belfast to Rangiora
C Comet The Hub Hornby Russley Road, Orchard Road (Airport), Bishopdale Mall Northlands Mall (Papanui) [2] Bike-icon.svg
M Metrostar Halswell The Hub Hornby, Canterbury University, Riccarton Mall, Merivale Mall, The Palms Mall, QEII Park New Brighton [3]
O Orbiter Eastgate Mall St Martins, Princess Margaret Hospital, Barrington, Riccarton Mall, Canterbury University, Northlands Mall, The Palms Mall Eastgate Mall [4]
3 Airport to Sumner Airport Avonhead, Canterbury University, Riccarton Mall, Christchurch Hospital, Central Station, Ferrymead Shops Sumner [5] Bike-icon.svg
Limited service Airport to Avonhead
5 Hornby to Southshore Hornby Riccarton Mall, Chch Hospital, Central Station, Fitzgerald Ave, Eastgate Mall, New Brighton Southshore [6] Bike-icon.svg
Limited service New Brighton to Southshore
7 Halswell to Queenspark Kennedy's Bush Halswell terminus, Halswell Shops, Addington Village, Chch Hospital, Central Station, CPIT, Fitzgerald Ave, The Palms Mall, New Brighton Road, Bower Ave/Beach Rd Queenspark [7] Bike-icon.svg
Limited service Kennedy's Bush to Hallswell terminus and via CPIT
17 Bryndwr to Hunstbury Sheffield Crescent Burnside, Central Station, Moorhouse Ave, Waltham, St Martins Huntsbury [8] Bike-icon.svg
21 Ilam to Mt Pleasant Ilam Canterbury University, Riccarton Mall, Moorhouse Ave, Central Station, Fitzgerald Ave, Eastgate Mall, Ferrymead Mount Pleasant [9] Bike-icon.svg
23 Hyde Park to Woolston Hyde Park Merrin St, Canterbury University, Chch Hospital, Central Station, Fitzgerald Ave, Eastgate Mall Woolston [10]
28 Papanui to Lyttelton & Rapaki Northlands Mall, Papanui Cranford Street, Edgeware, Central Station, Opawa, Heathcote, Lyttelton Rapaki [11] Bike-icon.svg
Limited service Lyttelton to Rapaki
29 Airport to City via Fendalton Central Station Fendalton Airport [12]
40 Middleton to Wainoni Church Corner Tower Junction, Central Station, Eastgate, Breezes Road/Wainoni Road New Brighton [13]
44 North Shore Central City - Parkside Central Station, Bealey Ave, Warrington Shops, Shirley, The Palms Mall, Horseshoe Lake North Shore [14] Bike-icon.svg
60 Hillmorton to Parklands Halswell Shops Hillmorton, Barrington Mall, Selwyn St Shops, Central Station, Fitzgerald Ave, The Palms Mall, Burwood Hospital, Bower Ave/Beach Road New Brighton [15]
81 Lincoln Central City - CPIT Central Station, Chch Hospital, Riccarton Mall, Church Corner, Prebbleton Lincoln University [16] Bike-icon.svg
83 Hei Hei Central City - CPIT Central Station, Chch Hospital, Riccarton Mall, Church Corner, Hei Hei Hornby [17] Bike-icon.svg
84 Russley Central City - CPIT Central Station, Chch Hospital, Riccarton Mall, Church Corner, Russley Hornby [18] Bike-icon.svg
88 Rolleston Central City - CPIT Central Station, Chch Hospital, Riccarton Mall, Church Corner, Hornby, Templeton Rolleston [19] Bike-icon.svg
95 Waiuku Central City - CPIT Central Station, Bealey Ave, Papanui Road, Belfast, Kaiapoi, Woodend, Pegasus Waiuku Beach [20] Bike-icon.svg
107 Styx Mill to Northlands Mall Northwood Supa Centa Styx Mill, Northwood, Willowbank Wildlife Reserve Northlands Mall [21] Bike-icon.svg
Local Service
108 Casebrook to Northlands Mall Northwood Casebrook, Sawyers Arms Road Northlands Mall [22] Bike-icon.svg
Local Service
111 Westmorland to Sydenham Westmorland Sparks Road, Barrington Mall Sydenham Shops [23] Bike-icon.svg
Local Service
114 Barrington to Cashmere Barrington Mall Somerfield, Dyers Pass, Cashmere, Sign of the Takahe Princess Margaret Hospital [24] Bike-icon.svg
Local Service
115 Murray Aysnley to Sydenham Opawa Murray Aynsley, Beckenham Sydenham Shops [25] Bike-icon.svg
Local Service
118 Edgeware to Northlands Mall Edgeware Village St Albans Northlands Mall [26] Bike-icon.svg
Local Service
119 Bishopdale to Northlands Mall Sheffield Crescent Nunweek Park, Harewood, Bishopdale Mall Northlands Mall [27] Bike-icon.svg
Local Service
120 Burnside to Spreydon Sheffield Crescent Burnside, University of Canterbury, Westfield Riccarton, Addington, Spreydon Barrington Mall [28] Bike-icon.svg
Local Service
146 Marshland to Dallington Marshland Burwood Hospital, The Palms Gayhurst Road [29] Bike-icon.svg
Local Service
480 Kainga Kaiapoi Kainga, The Palms Mall Shirley Boys' High School [30] Saturdays only Kaiapoi to Kainga
Local Service
510 Aranui & Avondale Link Eastgate Mall Aranui, Avondale, Wainoni Pak n Save Eastgate Mall [31] No wheelchair access
535 Lyttelton Eastgate Link Lyttelton Ferry Road Eastgate Mall [32] Bike-icon.svg
Local Service
820 Burnham to Lincoln Burnham Rolleston, Lincoln University Lincoln - James Street [33] Bike-icon.svg
Local Service
951 Kaiapoi to Pegasus Kaiapoi Woodend Pegasus [34] Bike-icon.svg
Local Service
952 Kaiapoi to Waiuku Kaiapoi Woodend, Kaiapoi Central Waiuku [35] Bike-icon.svg
Local Service


  • Bike-icon.svg Buses on route fitted with bike racks

Metro Bus Network Map (Oversimplified)
Metro Route Operators Map
Metro Route Bikes On Buses Map

Bikes on buses[edit]

Sportworks double bicycle carrier mounted on a Redbus

Christchurch was the first place in New Zealand where bikes were carried on suburban buses. The trial started in November 2007 on the 35 route to Heathcote.[2] Bike racks on buses are provided on many routes now. Other towns have now followed the example, including Hawkes Bay,[3] Taupo[4] and Nelson.[5]

Other transport services[edit]


There are a variety of taxi operators active in Christchurch. Operations are regulated by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Airport transport[edit]

Christchurch International Airport is served by buses and shuttle vans.

  • Two bus routes are available from the airport bus stand located outside the International Arrivals Terminal;
    • the number 3 bus (via Avonhead & City to Sumner)
    • the number 29 bus (via Fendalton to City)
  • One bus route is available at the entrance to the airport car park (5 minute walk from terminals) on Orchard Road and Memorial Avenue;
    • the Comet (Hornby to Papanui via Airport)
  • Shuttle vans provided by several operators, including most taxi companies, provide door-to-door transport to and from the Airport.

Diamond Harbour ferry[edit]

A ferry connects the suburb of Lyttelton to Diamond Harbour, a settlement on the opposite side of Lyttelton Harbour. Ferries first began crossing Lyttelton Harbour in 1888. The ferry is operated by Black Cat Ltd.

Christchurch Tramway[edit]

Main article: Trams in Christchurch
Christchurch Brill Tram No 178 on the heritage tramway

Christchurch Tramway Ltd [36] operates a one-way tram circuit of the central city. This is mainly marketed as a tourist attraction, but is available to local commuters with an annual season ticket. Trams were originally introduced to Christchurch in 1905, ceased operating in 1954,[6] and returned to the newly built inner city loop in 1995, mainly as a tourist attraction.

Preliminary investigation into light rail options for Christchurch have begun. Investigating options and protecting possible routes is an action point in the City Council's "A City for People Action Plan" (approved in 2010). The new Transport Interchange is being designed to accommodate a future light rail network.

Heavy rail[edit]

Commuter rail service was discontinued in the 1970s, while long distance rail travel (by KiwiRail Scenic) has been scaled back to just the Coastal Pacific and TranzAlpine services, which depart from an architecturally controversial station in Riccarton.

Cultural references[edit]

Christchurch's public transport system served as backdrop for Tim Veling's 2006 book "Red Bus Diary", in which the author toured the city on public buses and compiled the stories of the people he met.


  1. ^ Transport operators
  2. ^ "Bike-carrying racks on more bus routes from November". Christchurch: Environment Canterbury. 2009-01-29. Retrieved 8 February 2010. 
  3. ^ Hawkes Bay Today Sep 11, 2012
  4. ^ Taupo bus timetable.
  5. ^ Nelson Mail 8/03/2012
  6. ^ A Wheel on Each Corner, The History of the IPENZ Transportation Group 1956-2006 - Douglass, Malcolm; IPENZ Transportation Group, 2006, Page 12

External links[edit]