A survey released on Monday shows that almost two-thirds of people living in Christchurch do not feel safe.
The Quality of Life survey found that 64% of people felt unsafe walking through the central city after dark.
However, police say fears of being randomly attacked are unfounded because Christchurch has the lowest rate of violent offences of the country's main cities.
They say a lot of work is needed to help change the widespread view that Christchurch is unsafe.
The survey also shows that people living in Wellington are most likely to think they enjoy a good life.
The biennial survey by 12 city councils and the Ministry of Social Development found that 34% of Wellingtonians think their life is extremely good, while another 61% think it is good.