A brisk night in Christchurch wasn't going to turn away the thousands of eager music fans waiting for one of the biggest concerts of the year.

Benefit concert You Are Us/Aroha Nui is under way in the southern city with local acts like Lorde, Six60 and Shapeshifter set to take the stage.

New Zealand music icon Dave Dobbyn opened the event with a rendition of his song Welcome Home.

After Dobbyn, performances from Jon Toogood's The Adults, former Opshop frontman Jason Kerrison and Sole Mio followed.

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Upwards of 20,000 people are expected at tonight's event, dwarfing the 12,000 who turned out for the Auckland-held event on Saturday night.

Lighters were ditched for phone lights during Dave Dobbyn's performance. Photo / Getty Images
Lighters were ditched for phone lights during Dave Dobbyn's performance. Photo / Getty Images

The concert started around 7pm and is set to continue throughout the evening until 10.30pm - pop star Lorde is set to perform later in the evening.

All proceeds from the benefit concert will go to the Our People, Our City fund, set up to help those affected by the Christchurch terror attacks.

Temperatures have dropped below 10C but as The Hits Christchurch host, Brodie Kane explains, nothing would be able to turn away this crowd.

"It's a time for everyone to come together and use music to help this city through what was such an awful, awful event," she said.

Kane said people were rugged up well to keep out the cold, but that wasn't stopping some from queuing up for a cold beer, meanwhile, others were chowing down on hot chips and popcorn.

New Zealand singer, songwriter and record producer Lorde will perform tonight. Photo / Getty Images
New Zealand singer, songwriter and record producer Lorde will perform tonight. Photo / Getty Images

Social media posts show the crowd packing into the stands and onto the field of the rugby stadium.

A stage lined with speakers and big screens on either side has been erected at one end of the field as the crowd patiently awaits the first act.

Comedian, mental health advocate and Kiwibank New Zealander of the year Mike King is hosting the event, as he did in Auckland.

Promoter Brent Eccles worked together with Mark Kneebone, from Live Nation, to make the two charity gigs happen.

Eccles said inspiration largely came from the artists. Many had approached him directly, asking what they could do to help.

He received a text from Lorde some time after the two shows were first announced.

"She said, 'Hey, I can't do Auckland but I can come back and do Christchurch'," Eccles recalls.

"I was like really? Really?! Okay - yeah!"

Brent Eccles from Eccles Entertainment.
Brent Eccles from Eccles Entertainment.

What you need to know:

• The artists include Lorde, Six60, Shapeshifter, Boh and Bic Runga, Anika Moa, Don McGlashan, Mitch James, Teeks, Stan Walker, Hollie Smith, Sol3 Mio, Melowdownz, Shihad, Dave Dobbyn, The Exponents, Marlon Williams and others.

• Christchurch Stadium gates will open at 5pm. The Christchurch City Council is urging people to get to the stadium early.

• Uber and Lime will be donating profits from general travel to and from the concert. You can park Lime scooters near the Jack Hinton Dr roundabout.

• Red Bus is offering a park and ride service to and from the stadium. Buses will depart from the bus exchange and several of the city's shopping malls from mid-afternoon.