The area of Redcliffs was first populated by humans about 700 years ago. In the 14th century, large groups of Māori, initially the Waitaha people and then the Ngāti Māmoe tribe, settled in the area. The Ngāi Tahu eventually displaced Ngāti Māmoe and were still living in the area when the first Europeans arrived.
During 19th excavations of Moa Bone Point Cave in Redcliffs numerous artefacts were found. These included moa bones and egg shells, bones of seals, birds and fish, shellfish and many Māori taonga. This suggests that Moa Bone Point Cave was used as shelter by the first Māori people but also used as a place to store valuable items.
The suburb is most directly accessed from the city centre by a causeway that crosses the Avon Heathcote Estuary and is the suburb immediately before Sumner. Alternatively, Redcliffs can be accessed through McCormack's Bay Road, which circles the perimeter of the Avon Heathcote Estuary. The coastal road from Redcliffs to Sumner allows for further access to the port and suburb of Lyttelton and the Port Hills, and an alternative—if long—route to the city centre.
Redcliffs is characterised by rocky, hilly geography and has many natural caves in its sides. The domineering cliffs of Redcliffs are a snapshot of the region's volcanic origins. The cliffs are tinged with veins of red tephra, and composed of 'A'ā lava flows; the suburb draws its name from this the most notable of its physical features.
As of the 2018 census, Redcliffs had a population of 1,971 people, this is lower than the 2006 total of 2,079. The suburb is affluent by New Zealand standards and property values are relatively high, with the average house costing NZ$450,000 in 2006. Redcliffs has a significant number of baby boomers.
Barnett Park, open to public access, and a product of the earliest council recreation planning in the wider Christchurch region, is located in Redcliffs. The suburb also hosts a bowling green, and a smaller park adjacent to the estuary which bears the suburb's name, Redcliffs Park.
2011 Christchurch earthquake
In contrast to the September 2010 earthquake, Redcliffs and the surrounding hills suffered significant damage in the 22 February 2011 earthquake. Dozens of houses were deemed unliveable and hundreds more damaged. There was a large scale evacuation of several streets in Redcliffs at 10pm on Thursday, 24 February after some cliffs surrounding Redcliffs were deemed unstable. The following morning, a few streets or partial streets remained cordoned off but many people were able to return to their homes immediately.
By 7 March, detailed geotechnical inspections of the affected land inside the remaining cordons began with a view to removing them. They were removed on 8 March.
On 2 March, Redcliffs resident Peter Hyde launched a viral call to encourage more support, especially key supplies and information, for the worst affected Eastern suburbs of Christchurch. In particular those to the north of Redcliffs such as Parklands, Aranui, Bromley, Avonside, Bexley and New Brighton.
The local school, Redcliffs School, was temporarily relocated to Van Asch Deaf Education Centre, 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) from the original Main Road site after the June 2011 aftershock. This decision came after concerns of the safety of pupils as the cliffs behind the school became unstable. In 2015 and 2016, Redcliffs School faced the risk of closure due to the risk of further disruption. After community backlash, it was decided to build a new site in Redcliffs Park, across the road from the original site. The new site was opened in June 2020. 
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- Real Estate Institute of New Zealand
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- Hyde, Peter. "Christchurch Quake - More Action Needed in Eastern Suburbs Right Now". Webcentre.co.uk.
- "Christchurch's Redcliffs School move to be fast tracked". Stuff. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
- "Redcliffs School returns home after nine years". Stuff. 21 June 2020. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
- Admin. "Principal's Welcome". Redcliffs School. Retrieved 30 September 2019.