Christchurch's iconic cathedral has been deemed beyond repair and will be taken down to a level of 2-3 metres.
That will ensure safety and allow for the retrieval of heritage items, according to the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch.
Bishop Victoria Matthews said there would be no bulldozers or wrecking balls involved in the demolition, which is expected to take the rest of the year.
A new cathedral will be built but where it will be situated and what it will look like is yet to be determined.
The original landmark building was hit hard by the Canterbury quakes and following aftershocks, and its spire snapped during the fatal February 22 tremor.
Mayor Bob Parker says the news is heartbreaking for many Cantabrians.
Both the Christchurch Civic Trust and New Zealand Historic Places Trust have expressed disappointment at today's news.