Christchurch city should be open again by the middle of next year.
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has made his 'State of Recovery' speech in the city this morning.
Mr Brownlee says the CBD red zone has shrunk significantly from 387 hectares after the February quake.
"Today this area's reduced to 49 hectares. You'll have noticed the increased access to the CBD, we aim to have the city fully open by the middle of the year (2013)."
The Minister says having EQC cover has meant that through the multiple seismic events, insurance cover has been maintained for existing homes.
"EQC has received 414,148 building claims and 93,337 land claims and so far, they've paid out in excess of $3.3 billion."
Mr Brownlee says everyone should be proud of the region's recovery and that by the end of this year, the New Zealand Defence Force will come off the city cordon and return to their barracks.
Photo: NZ Herald