Container Mall (originally called Re:START) was a temporary mall built from shipping containers in Christchurch Central City, New Zealand. It had been a response to the 22 February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, which destroyed most buildings in City Mall (Cashel and High Streets), and resulted in the central city being cordoned off from public access while buildings were being demolished. Initially considered a short-term response to the lack of permanent buildings, Re:START was popular with locals and tourists alike and remained open for business until January 2018.

ReSTART Great Place to Relax.jpg
Re:START in November 2013
LocationCity Mall, Christchurch, New Zealand
Coordinates43°31′59.77″S 172°38′6.27″E / 43.5332694°S 172.6350750°E / -43.5332694; 172.6350750Coordinates: 43°31′59.77″S 172°38′6.27″E / 43.5332694°S 172.6350750°E / -43.5332694; 172.6350750
AddressCashel Street
Opening date29 October 2011; 9 years ago (2011-10-29)
Closing date31 January 2018; 2 years ago (2018-01-31)
DeveloperRestart The Heart Trust
Number of tenantsc. 50
WebsiteOfficial website
Original website


City Mall was the main shopping area in central Christchurch. The pedestrian mall was made up of two blocks of Cashel Street (from Oxford Terrace to High Street), and one block of High Street (from Cashel Street to Hereford Street). The central city including buildings in City Mall suffered some damage in the 4 September 2010 Canterbury earthquake. Although lower in magnitude, the 2010 Boxing Day earthquake was more damaging as the epicentre was directly located under the central city.[1] It was the 22 February 2011 Christchurch earthquake that all but devastated the city centre, when many of the building façades of the historic buildings in the mall collapsed.[2]


Dignitaries at the Re:START opening (from left): Gerry Brownlee, Bob Parker, John Key, Roger Sutton, and Nicky Wagner; Brendon Burns and Paul Lonsdale are in the second row

Original locationEdit

Location of Re:START from October 2011 to June 2014
Re:START in July 2014

In April 2011, it was announced that part of Cashel Street was to reopen on 29 October 2011. The date was set just prior to Cup and Show Week, where the Canterbury A&P Show is held in the week that coincides with the provincial anniversary day.[3] The initiative was driven by the Restart The Heart Trust, which was set up for the purpose of getting retail back into the central city. The Restart The Heart Trust was given an interest-free loan of $3.36 million by the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust.[4][5] Temporary shops made from shipping containers were fitted out as retail premises, to accommodate 27 shops branded as Re:START.[6] Ballantynes, Christchurch's remaining department store, also reopened and is the retail anchor. Prime Minister John Key officiated at the opening ceremony.[7]

The original proponent of the concept, Paul Lonsdale of the Central City Business Association, became the manager of the mall initiative.[8] Lonsdale and others initially claimed that it was the world first pop-up mall,[9][10] but there were already container malls in other places, for example Cholula (Mexico) and Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan). Organisers of the Christchurch mall project were threatened with legal action by organisers of a similar project in London (Boxpark) that was yet to open.[11] Shipping containers were chosen because they were "strong & re-locatable" (the mall was developed while Christchurch still experienced strong aftershocks, e.g. the June 2011 earthquake), and due to agreements with land owners, it may be necessary to relocate the mall to make way for building reconstruction. The initial 27 tenants were given six-months contracts.[6]

Re:START was opened on Saturday, 29 October 2011 by the mayor, Bob Parker, and the prime minister, John Key, with the latter calling the project "incredibly funky".[12] An estimated 10,000 visitors came to the opening, with one retailer describing it as having a "carnival atmosphere".[13] Access to Re:START was from the western end of City Mall, with much of the central city still cordoned off, including Colombo Street; it was not until 30 June 2013 that the central city cordons were removed.[14] The initial layout saw about two-thirds of the shops north of Cashel Street opposite Ballantynes, and the remainder south of Cashel Street to the west of Ballantynes.[15]

June 2014 moveEdit

Location of Re:START since June 2014

In December 2013, it was announced that by April 2014, Re:START may have to close, which evoked a strong reaction by the public and stakeholders for it to be retained.[16] The lease on the northern part of the mall was about to expire, with most of the land owned by Lichfield Holdings, and a building project was about to start.[5] A month later, it was reported that negotiations were under way for a relocation of the northern part of the mall.[5] In February 2014, the Christchurch newspaper The Press announced that the northern part of the mall was to shift west, to be adjacent to the part that is located south of Cashel Street.[17] The Earthquake Recovery Minister, Gerry Brownlee, announced in March 2014 that the Crown had given a $1.27 million grant to the Restart The Heart Trust for relocation onto land partially owned by the Crown and partially in private hands.[18] It took 10 days to relocate the northern part of the mall,[19] and Brownlee opened the relocated part on 13 June 2014.[15]


In 2012, Christchurch's earthquake recovery was given a boost when international travel guide Lonely Planet included it in its list of 'top 10 cities to visit' in 2013, with Re:START listed as "most bizarre sight".[20]

Re:START manager Lonsdale gained a high profile through this initiative and was one of two main contenders for the Christchurch mayoralty in the October 2013 local elections. Beaten by former Labour Party MP Lianne Dalziel for the mayoralty, Lonsdale was successful as a Christchurch City Councillor.[21]


With closure of the mall pending, the Re:Start the Heart Trust wound up in 2017 and the assets were sold to Riverside Ltd, a development company led by Richard Peebles. The container mall closed on Wednesday, 31 January 2018, with the various tenants dispersing to other locations throughout the city centre.[22] Riverside Ltd bought land in that area from The Crown to achieve half a hectare (5000 square metres), which is the minimum development size for the city mall area. They plan to place five buildings on the site bounded by Cashel Street, Oxford Terrace, and Lichfield Street, including a 7-day indoor farmers' market. The cost of this development is NZ$80 million.[23]


  1. ^ Carville, Olivia (29 December 2010). "Another miracle of Christchurch quake timing". The Press. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  2. ^ "Central city tour reveals destruction". The Press. 4 April 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Plan to reopen Christchurch CBD announced". The Press. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  4. ^ "Appeal Trust funds project to kick-start retail" (Press release). Christchurch: Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Stylianou, Georgina (16 January 2014). "Move to save Re:Start mall". The Press. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  6. ^ a b Heather, Ben (22 October 2011). "Shopping centres sign of new start". The Press. p. A4. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  7. ^ Stylianou, Georgina (28 October 2011). "Christchurch shopping set to resume". The Press. p. A1. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  8. ^ McClure, Tess (21 December 2013). "Re:Start mall vital to CBD - backers". The Press. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  9. ^ van Beynen, Martin (19 October 2011). "Christchurch pop-up mall may be world's first". The Press. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  10. ^ Heather, Ben (21 October 2011). "World's first pop-up mall set to open". The Press. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  11. ^ "Lawsuit threat to 'pop-up' City Mall". The Press. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  12. ^ Cairns, Lois (30 October 2011). "Ravaged retail centre reborn". Sunday Star Times. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  13. ^ "Untitled". The Press. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  14. ^ Stylianou, Georgina (27 March 2013). "Christchurch red zone curtain set to fall". The Press. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  15. ^ a b "New start for Re:START Mall" (Press release). Christchurch: Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  16. ^ McClure, Tess; Meier, Cecile (20 December 2013). "Re:Start mall may close in April". The Press. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  17. ^ McDonald, Liz (21 February 2014). "Re:Start Mall safe for another year". The Press. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  18. ^ O'Connor, Sarah-Jane (6 March 2014). "Re-Start Mall moves down the street". The Press. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  19. ^ Stylianou, Georgina (13 June 2014). "Video captures Re:Start Mall's move". The Press. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  20. ^ Wright, Michael (22 October 2012). "Global travel guide hails Chch as top destination". The Press. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  21. ^ Cairns, Lois; Conway, Glenn (12 October 2013). "Lianne Dalziel is Christchurch's mayor". The Press. Christchurch. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  22. ^ McDonald, Liz (31 January 2018). "Christchurch container mall tenants scatter as six-year-old 'temporary' community ends". The Press. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  23. ^ McDonald, Liz (23 November 2016). "$80m complex of farmers' market, shops and eateries expected to lure thousands". The Press. Retrieved 4 February 2018.

External linksEdit

  • Photos from the 29 October 2011 opening