Prime Minister John Key and Governor General Jerry Mataparae are amongst the dignitaries who will attend the midday service.
As the city prepares to remember the victims of the quake, 185 white chairs have been placed at the site of the former Baptist church on Oxford Terrace as a tribute to those who lost their lives.
Artist Peter Majendie says he hopes the installation will provoke memories.
“What I would like is for people to wander through the chairs at their own pace and find a chair that speaks to them, or they engage with, or that reminds them of someone,” he says.
Twelve months ago Latimer Square looked like a battleground, complete with a makeshift triage centre for the injured. Tomorrow it will host a service for the families of the victims and the emergency staff who risked their own lives trying to save others.
Mayor Bob Parker says tomorrow is a day to “take some time again to mark what we've been through, which is incredible”.
Roses will be released at 15 sites along the Avon River and the city’s public transport will mark the anniversary, with buses stopping for two minutes at 12.51.
Tonight another memorial took place at Avonhead Park Ceremony, the interment site for the quake victims.
Hamish Clark joined 3 News live from Avonhead – watch the video for his full report.