Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, who designed Christchurch's cardboard cathedral, will return to the city on Sunday to turn the first sod for the project.
The structure will be built in Latimer Square as a temporary replacement for the Anglican Church's ChristChurch Cathedral in Cathedral Square, which is being demolished because of earthquake damage.
The new building will be made out of large cardboard tubes, timber beams and structural steel.
Cathedral spokesperson Craig Dixon says Mr Ban will take part in a short sod-turning ceremony on Sunday and will also meet local architects to fine-tune design details, allowing them to cost the $5m project more tightly.
Construction is likely to begin in about five weeks.