Almost seven years after the devastating earthquake left the city in ruins, Christchurch’s nightlife is about to get a much-welcomed boost when a new development of bars and restaurants finally opens along the banks of the Avon River.

The Terraces is a $130m, 8500m2 riverside complex which serves a replacement for The Strip, which was largely destroyed after the 2011 quakes. The Terraces features roof terraces, bars, courtyards, restaurants and a multi-storey carpark. The design, inspired by the streets of Melbourne, will feature interlocking passageways and balconies reminiscent of the laneways for which the city is renowned.

The first three venues are now open – Fat Eddies, Kong and Original Sin – with a further 17 to be opened before the end of the year. The return of Fat Eddies has been long anticipated, with the jazz bar and local institution having lost its place in the now-abandoned Sol Square after the February 2011 earthquake, which was further damaged by fire in 2016.

Property magnate Antony Gough said that he wanted the development to be a benchmark for the city.

"We are looking for a top-quality development. We are not sparing anything on getting it right. You can build cheap and get things up in a hurry, but we are building for longevity. We are investing in Christchurch," he said. "We want this to be the living room of Christchurch where people will want to move. We want it to be a lively area."

The opening, ahead of the October date set at the start of the year by Gough, couldn’t come at a more welcome time for the quake-damaged city. Hotel and motel owners met last week to discuss concerns over a lack of tourists, in part hindered by incomplete projects. Tourist numbers have dropped from 1.7 million in 2010 to only 750,000 in the years since the 2010 earthquake.