Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced that central Christchurch will be fully open by the middle of next year.
Mr Brownlee gave a State of Recovery address in Christchurch on Friday, saying the ambitious deadline to dissolve the cordon has been put in place to speed up the South Island city's regrowth.
By the end of the year the Defence Force will not need to staff the cordon, which at present covers an area of 49 hectares.
This has reduced from 387 hectares immediately following the devastating February 2011 earthquake.
Mr Brownlee said work on 80% of the 1600 buildings scheduled for full or partial demolition has been done and the rebuilding is gaining momentum.
Details of a Government buyout offer for commercial, vacant and uninsured properties in the residential red zone would be made official in the next three weeks.
Rebuilding 'must be future-proofed'
Mr Brownlee said New Zealand has a history of doing things "a bit half-pied" and he is determined the rebuilding of Christchurch will not be done that way.
He says Auckland opened the Harbour Bridge as a four-lane road in 1959, but just 10 years later had to make it an eight-lane bridge with so-called clip-on lanes.
In Wellington, money was saved by scrapping two two-lane tunnels at the end of the motorway in favour of the three-lane Terrace Tunnel, which was out of date as soon as it was opened.
The Minister says what is done in Christchurch must be the best and future-proofed.