Riccarton, New Zealand

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Suburb of Christchurch
Riccarton House, a prominent homestead and the suburb's namesake, in 2008
Riccarton House, a prominent homestead and the suburb's namesake, in 2008
Riccarton is located in Christchurch, New Zealand
Coordinates: 43°31′48″S 172°35′51″E / 43.52998°S 172.59744°E / -43.52998; 172.59744Coordinates: 43°31′48″S 172°35′51″E / 43.52998°S 172.59744°E / -43.52998; 172.59744
CountryNew Zealand
Electoral wardRiccarton
 • Land347.5 ha (858.7 acres)
 • Total10,563
Ilam Fendalton
Upper Riccarton
(Hagley Park)
Wigram Addington

Riccarton is a suburb of Christchurch. It is due west of the city centre, separated from it by Hagley Park. Upper Riccarton is to the west of Riccarton.


On 12 April 1840, the ship Sarah and Elizabeth landed Herriot, McGillivray, Ellis, Shaw (and wife) and McKinnon (with his wife and child) who established a farm at Riccarton. They were the first European settlers on the plains."[2] In January 1841, they abandoned their attempt to farm in the area.[3]

Riccarton House was the homestead commissioned by Jane Deans in circa 1855. The Deans brothers, who along with the Gebbies and the Mansons were the second group of Europeans to settle in Christchurch on the same site as the first group in 1843.[4] A replica of their original cob cottage is on the grounds. Riccarton House is now a restaurant and function centre, and conducts regular tours.[5] The Deans brothers, John and William, named the suburb after the parish in Ayrshire, Scotland, in which they were born. They were also responsible for naming the River Avon after the river of the same name in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Antonio Hall is located on Riccarton Road. A large property with 279 rooms and once described as "one of the finest in Christchurch and vicinity", it has been left to decay despite a Category II listing with Heritage New Zealand.[6][7] In July 2019, 30% of the building was lost to a fire started by a 14 year old youth.[8][9]

The Al Noor Mosque on Deans Avenue was the site of a mass shooting during the Christchurch mosque shootings on 15 March 2019.[10]

Riccarton Bush[edit]

Adjacent to Riccarton House is Riccarton Bush, a prominent feature also known as Deans Bush (Māori: Pūtaringamotu). The Māori word Pūtaringamotu means either ‘the place of an echo’ or ‘the severed ear’. The latter is a metaphoric expression referring to ‘bush isolated from the rest’. It is one of only four remnants of the original forest that covered the Canterbury plains, escaping the huge fires that swept across the province during the moa hunter period.[11] Another remnant, at Papanui, was cut down in the 1850s. The other two remnants were at Kaiapoi and Rangiora.[12] It is dominated by kahikatea trees.[13] A predator-proof perimeter fence has now been erected, with the hope of reintroducing kiwi to the reserve. In 1848, Scots brothers John and William Deans signed an agreement with the New Zealand Company to protect what was originally about 22 hectares of the kahikatea forest at Pūtaringamotu. In 1914, the 6.4 hectares that remained of Deans Bush was formally protected, spearheaded by prominent citizens of Christchurch, including Harry Ell and botanist Dr. Leonard Cockayne.[14]

Riccarton Bush has played an important role in the history of New Zealand entomology, a number of native insects were first collected and named from Riccarton Bush. One of the first collections was of a plume moth Pterophorus monospilalis in 1859 which is now in the Fereday collection held in the Canterbury Museum. Thirty nine families of Lepidoptera are found in New Zealand; 27 of these occur in Riccarton Bush.[15] The moths of Riccarton Bush represent the majority of these families. The bag moth Mallobathra metrosema is only known to occur in Riccarton Bush.[16]

Riccarton Racecourse Hotel[edit]

The Riccarton Racecourse Hotel is considered to be one of the most haunted places in New Zealand. It is said that the ghost of former licensee Donald Fraser walks the corridors of the hotel looking for his killer. In 1933, Fraser was murdered in the dead of night in his bedroom, where his wife was sleeping, by two blasts from a double-barrelled shotgun. Despite investigations, nobody was found guilty of the crime.[17]


Until local government amalgamation in 1989, Riccarton was an independent borough. Since then, Riccarton is represented by the Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton community board.[18] In the 2019 local government elections, Catherine Chu was elected as Councillor for the Riccarton ward.[19]


Riccarton is home to Westfield Riccarton, which at approximately 54,000 square metres (580,000 sq ft) is one of New Zealand's largest shopping malls.[20] The mall was first opened as Riccarton Mall in 1965, and has since undergone multiple redevelopments and expansions. The most recent of these took place in 2009, with the addition of a second floor and new carpark building, while plans for further expansions into neighbouring property are within the design process.[21] This development underpins much of the economic activity in Riccarton, with the nearby stretch of Riccarton Road also a busy retail area with numerous motels.


Riccarton is one of most culturally diverse suburbs of Christchurch. In 2013, 36% of residents were not born in New Zealand, compared with 22% for the city as a whole.[22] The most common ethnicity in 2013 was European (67%), followed by Asian (24%), Māori (8%), Pacific peoples (4%), Middle Eastern-Latin American-African (2%) and other ethnicity (2%).[22] After English, the next most common languages spoken are Tagalog, Sinitic, Northern Chinese and te reo Māori.[22]

Places of worship cover a variety of faiths, including Christian churches, the Yolin Assemblies of God Korean Church, the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist temple, a Sikh temple on Kilmarnock St,[23][24] and the Al Noor Mosque.[25][26] The suburb is home to many of Christchurch's 2000 Muslim residents.[citation needed]

Due to its proximity to the University of Canterbury, Riccarton is also home to many Christchurch students. The population of Riccarton is disproportionately younger as a result, with nearly 40 percent of the suburb's population being aged between 15 and 30 years old as of 2014.[27]

Notable Riccartonians[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The population is the sum of the population in statistical areas of Riccarton, Riccarton West, Riccarton South and Upper Riccarton.
  2. ^ "Christchurch: a chronology". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  3. ^ "Christchurch: a chronology". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  4. ^ "Christchurch: a chronology". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  5. ^ "Riccarton House". Riccarton House & Bush. Archived from the original on 5 October 2011. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  6. ^ "Antonio House". Register of Historic Places. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  7. ^ Matthews, Philip (9 January 2016). "The mystery of Antonio Hall". The Press. p. B1. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  8. ^ "Fire at Christchurch's Antonio Hall deemed suspicious". The Press. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  9. ^ Clarkson, David (6 August 2019). "Teen admits starting blaze at Christchurch's derelict Antonio Hall". Stuff. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Turkish man wounded in Christchurch mosque shootings has died, bringing toll to 51". Stuff.co.nz. 3 May 2019. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  11. ^ "The place of an echo: Pūtaringamotu (Deans Bush)". Envirohistory NZ. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
  12. ^ Challenger, S. (1974). "Changes in the Canterbury Landscape". Canterbury Garden. The Gardens Trust. 5 (1): 57. doi:10.2307/1586320.
  13. ^ "RICCARTON BUSH". The Plant World. Wiley on behalf of the Ecological Society of America. 9 (11): 269–270. 1906.
  14. ^ envirohistorynz (21 June 2010). "The place of an echo: Pūtaringamotu (Deans Bush)".
  15. ^ Molloy, Brian (1995). Riccarton Bush: Putaringamotu. Christchurch: The Riccarton Bush Trust. p. 263.
  16. ^ Monson, Keitha; Emberson, Rowan (2003). Biodiversity of terrestrial invertebrates in Christchurch City: a report for the Christchurch City Council (Report). pp. 37–38. hdl:10182/4169.
  17. ^ New Zealand's spookiest stories
  18. ^ "Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board". ccc.govt.nz. Christchurch City Council. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  19. ^ "electionz.com". www.electionz.com. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  20. ^ Gibson, Anne (10 April 2019). "Four biggest NZ malls a focus for Scentre in $790m property expansion". NZ Herald. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  21. ^ McDonald, Liz (8 March 2016). "Westfield Riccarton mall hatches big expansion plan". Stuff. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  22. ^ a b c "An average of the cultural diversity statistic for areas Riccarton, Riccarton West, Riccarton South and Upper Riccarton". archive.stats.govt.nz. 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  23. ^ "Christchurch Sikh community increases 10-fold since earthquakes". Stuff. 27 July 2020. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  24. ^ "Daily Prayer & Gurmat Samagam". Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  25. ^ "Hundreds join interfaith bike tour of Christchurch prompted by terror attacks". Stuff. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  26. ^ Drury, Abdullah (5 August 2008). "A time for Muslims to examine faith". Nelson Mail. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  27. ^ "Community Profile 2014 – Riccarton North" (PDF). Christchurch City Council.