Waimakariri District
Council offices in Rangiora
Council offices in Rangiora
Coat of arms of Waimakariri District
Coordinates: 43°18′S 172°18′E / 43.3°S 172.3°E / -43.3; 172.3
CountryNew Zealand
IslandSouth Island (Te Waipounamu)
  • Kaiapoi-Tuahiwi
  • Woodend-Sefton
  • Oxford-Ohoka
  • Rangiora-Ashley
  • Kaiapoi-Woodend
  • Oxford-Ohoka
  • Rangiora-Ashley
Named forWaimakariri River
 • MayorDan Gordon
 • Deputy MayorNeville Atkinson
 • Territorial authorityWaimakariri District Council
 • Total2,217.12 km2 (856.03 sq mi)
 (June 2023)[2]
 • Total69,000
 • Density31/km2 (81/sq mi)
DemonymWaimakaririan[citation needed]
Time zoneUTC+12 (NZST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+13 (NZDT)
Area Code03
Websitewww.waimakariri.govt.nz Edit this at Wikidata

Waimakariri District is a local government district, located in the Canterbury Region of New Zealand's South Island. It is named after the Waimakariri River, which forms the district's southern boundary, separating it from Christchurch City and the Selwyn District. It is bounded in the north by the Hurunui District and in the east by the Pacific Ocean.

The district was established on 1 April 1989 following the merger of Rangiora District and Eyre County. The district covers 2,217.12 square kilometres (856.03 sq mi), and is home to 69,000 people.[2] Rangiora is the district seat and largest town, with other major towns including Kaiapoi, Oxford, Pegasus and Woodend.

The current district mayor is Dan Gordon, who was elected in the 2019 local body elections.[3]


The Waimakariri District lies to the north of the Waimakariri River in North Canterbury. The major urban areas are Rangiora and Kaiapoi, which are respectively about 30 and 20 minutes travelling time by car from the centre of Christchurch City.

There are other urban settlements, including Woodend and Oxford, as well as a number of village and beach settlements.

The District occupies some 225,000 hectares, and extends from Pegasus Bay in the east to the Puketeraki Range in the west. It is bounded to the north by the Hurunui District.

Urban areas and settlements

The Waimakariri district has five towns with a population over 1,000. Together, they are home to 64.2% of the district's population.[2]

Urban area Population

(June 2023)[2]

% of district
Rangiora 19,600 28.4%
Kaiapoi 13,600 19.7%
Woodend 4,550 6.6%
Pegasus 4,180 6.1%
Oxford 2,380 3.4%

Other settlements and localities in the district include:


In pre-European times, there were several important Ngāi Tahu settlements in the area now occupied by the Waimakariri District. The centre of Ngāi Tahu was the pa of Taurakautahi, known as Kaiapoi. Today, the hapu Ngai Tuahuriri is based at Tuahiwi, to the north of Kaiapoi. People who identify themselves as having NZ Maori ancestry presently represent 8.5% of the District's population, and most of these people live in the eastern part of the District.

During the early years of European settlement, Kaiapoi developed as a river port. Rangiora was the area's main market town, and the development of Oxford was based on timber milling. The roles of the District's main urban areas have changed during recent years, mainly as the result of the rapid population growth.

During the colonial era, the area was also known as Courtenay,[4] but the Maori name Waimakariri ultimately prevailed. The township of Courtenay is today part of the Selwyn District. The name Waimakariri translates from Te Reo Māori to 'cold water', referring to the snow melt source of the river in the Southern Alps.

European settlement concentrated on the fertile soils of the plains. Until the middle of the 20th century, extensive agricultural and pastoral farming predominated. More recently, horticultural and forestry have gained in importance. Today, some 11% of the District's labour force is now involved with agriculture, forestry and fishing.


Waimakariri District covers 2,217.12 km2 (856.03 sq mi)[1] and had an estimated population of 69,000 as of June 2023,[2] with a population density of 31 people per km2.

The district has experienced a rapidly growing population that is predicted to continue to increase. Despite rapid growth, Waimakariri has retained its rural/small-town character and a high proportion of residents are involved in an extensive range of community and recreational organisations.

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: [5][6][7]

Waimakariri District had a population of 59,502 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 9,513 people (19.0%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 16,668 people (38.9%) since the 2006 census. There were 22,026 households, comprising 29,247 males and 30,258 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.97 males per female. The median age was 43.6 years (compared with 37.4 years nationally), with 11,412 people (19.2%) aged under 15 years, 9,675 (16.3%) aged 15 to 29, 27,174 (45.7%) aged 30 to 64, and 11,241 (18.9%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 92.9% European/Pākehā, 8.6% Māori, 1.4% Pasifika, 2.9% Asian, and 1.8% other ethnicities. People may identify with more than one ethnicity.

The percentage of people born overseas was 17.6, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people chose not to answer the census's question about religious affiliation, 53.9% had no religion, 36.0% were Christian, 0.3% had Māori religious beliefs, 0.3% were Hindu, 0.2% were Muslim, 0.2% were Buddhist and 1.5% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 7,080 (14.7%) people had a bachelor's or higher degree, and 10,050 (20.9%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $33,600, compared with $31,800 nationally. 8,667 people (18.0%) earned over $70,000 compared to 17.2% nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 23,925 (49.8%) people were employed full-time, 7,806 (16.2%) were part-time, and 1,305 (2.7%) were unemployed.[7]

Individual wards
Name Area (km2) Population Density (per km2) Households Median age Median income
Oxford-Ohoka Ward 1,619.81 12,051 7.44 4,254 43.2 years $37,700
Rangiora-Ashley Ward 443.29 24,915 56.20 9,354 44.3 years $31,400
Kaiapoi-Woodend Ward 154.02 22,530 146.28 8,415 43.0 years $34,200
New Zealand 37.4 years $31,800


A large portion of the Waimakariri District has fertile flat land, or highly productive rolling downs. Much of the land to the east of Rangiora is reclaimed swamp, which is still subject to poor drainage and occasional flooding.

The north-western portion of the District is hill and high country. These hills, including Mt Oxford, Mt Richardson, Mt Thomas and Mt Grey, dominate the District's western landscape.

Historically, the District was dominated by extensive agricultural and pastoral farming activity, with few major industries. More recently, many new small holdings have been created; some of these are used for full-time or part-time horticultural enterprises, including vegetable and flower growing.

The District has a few major industries. A large fibreboard plant at Sefton draws on local wood resources. The other industries are mainly small-scale service and processing enterprises, some of which also use local wood resources.

The Waimakariri District has a high standard of communications. The South Island Main Trunk Railway and State Highway 1 cross the eastern portion of the District. The District also has an airfield at Rangiora, and is close to the Christchurch International Airport. Telecommunications are continually being upgraded.


The District offers a wide range of recreation. It has sandy beaches, estuaries, river gorges and braided rivers, which offer a range of choices for fishing, boating and rafting.

The famous Waimakariri River provides opportunities to jet boat, kayak and fish, and sandy beaches are nearby. The District also offers the opportunity to enjoy sailing on Pegasus Lake, horse riding, farm tours and weekly farmers' markets.

The foothills and mountains offer a variety of tramping experiences, which complement a growing range of walking trails and formal recreational areas throughout the District.


See also: List of schools in the Canterbury Region § Waimakariri District

The Waimakariri District is served by 20 state and three state-integrated primary schools, as well as two area schools covering years 1–13, one in Oxford and one in Rangiora (Rangiora New Life), and two secondary schools: Rangiora High School and Kaiapoi High School. Many of the primary schools are well-supported by the community, and an increasing number of pre-schools have begun to open in the District.


  1. ^ a b "ArcGIS Web Application". statsnz.maps.arcgis.com. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Subnational population estimates (RC, SA2), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2023 (2023 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2023. (regional councils); "Subnational population estimates (TA, SA2), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2023 (2023 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2023. (territorial authorities); "Subnational population estimates (urban rural), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2023 (2023 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2023. (urban areas)
  3. ^ "Waimakariri District Council 2019 Triennial Elections Declaration of Result" (PDF). Waimakariri District Council. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  4. ^ "What's In A Name? Geographic Board's Work". The Evening Post. 27 April 1934. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  5. ^ "Waimakariri District (Census 96) (1996 Census of Population and Dwellings)". .stats.govt.nz. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
  6. ^ "StatsMaps - 2013 Census population and dwelling map". Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Statistical area 1 dataset for 2018 Census". Statistics New Zealand. March 2020. Waimakariri District (059). 2018 Census place summary: Waimakariri District