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Christchurch is a city on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

The city is named after the cathedral college of Christ Church in the University of Oxford. Its Maori name is Otautahi, from the Maori chief Tautahi, who had a settlement on the banks of the Avon River. Christchurch is located at Template:Coor dms. [1]

Urban Area Population 363,700 (2004 est.)
Extent the city, Kaiapoi,
Prebbleton, Lyttelton &
Diamond Harbour
Name Christchurch City
Population 344,100 (2004 est.)
Extent Waimakariri River to the

Port Hills and west to

See also Waimakariri District
(includes Kaiapoi)

Banks Peninsula District
(includes Lyttelton)

Selwyn District
Name Canterbury


Christchurch is the main city in Canterbury, New Zealand. It lies at the southern end of Pegasus Bay, in the middle of the east coast of the South Island, between Banks Peninsula and the Canterbury Plains. The city is bounded to the east by the Pacific Ocean coast and the estuary of the Avon and Heathcote rivers, in the south and south-east by the volcanic slopes of the Port Hills, and in the north by the Waimakariri River. The urban area extends a little further.

The large number of public parks and many well-developed residential gardens with many trees throughout the city have given it the name of The Garden City. Hagley Park and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are located in the centre of the city, with Hagley Park being a site for sports such as golf, netball, and rugby, and for open air concerts by local bands and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

With much of the city being flat and only a few metres above sea level, spectacular views can be obtained from almost any high building. At these low elevations the city appears more like a forest with only a few buildings visible, rather than a major city.

The centre of the city is Cathedral Square, directly in front of the Anglican cathedral, Christ Church.

List of Christchurch suburbs

File:Christchurch, New Zealand, NASA 2.jpg
View from space of Christchurch and surrounding areas.

Inner suburbs

(clockwise from city centre, starting due north)

Mairehau; Shirley; Richmond; Avonside; Linwood; Woolston; Opawa; Waltham; Sydenham; Spreydon; Addington; Riccarton; Ilam; Burnside; Fendalton; Bryndwr; Merivale; Papanui; St Albans.

Outer suburbs

(clockwise from city centre, starting due north)

Burwood; Parklands; Waimairi Beach; Avondale; New Brighton; Bexley; Aranui; South Brighton; Southshore; Bromley; Redcliffs; Sumner; Ferrymead; Heathcote Valley; Huntsbury; Cashmere; Westmoreland; Hoon Hay; Halswell; Oaklands; Wigram; Sockburn; Hornby; Islington; Yaldhurst; Russley; Avonhead; Harewood; Bishopdale; Casebrook; Redwood; Belfast.

Satellite towns

(clockwise from city centre, starting due north)

Brooklands; Lyttelton; Tai Tapu; Lincoln; Prebbleton; Templeton; Rolleston; West Melton; Rangiora; Kaiapoi.


Christchurch has a temperate climate, with temperatures in January ranging from a minimum of 15°C to a maximum of 33°C, and from -5°C to 10°C in July. Summer temperatures are often moderated by a sea breeze from the northeast. A summer in 2004 had christchurch at around 40 degrees on some days which is extremely hot for New Zealand standards. A notable feature of the weather is the Nor'wester, a hot föhn wind which occasionally reaches gale force and causes widespread damage to property. In winter, it is common for the temperature to fall below 0°C at night. Snow falls occur reasonably often, on average once or twice a year.

On cold winter nights, the surrounding hills, clear skies, and frosty calm conditions often combine to form a stable inversion layer above the city that traps vehicle exhausts and smoke from domestic fires to cause smog. While not as bad as smog in Los Angeles, California, Christchurch smog has often been known to exceed World Health Organisation recommendations for air pollution. The city has strict requirements for domestic home heating in order to limit air pollution.


On 6 March 2004, the area administered by the Christchurch City Council had a population of 344,100, making it the second-largest in New Zealand, and the largest city in the South Island. The Christchurch Urban Area is the third-largest in the country, after Auckland and Wellington.

Ethnic Profile


The local economy was based on the agricultural produce of the Canterbury plains. Early manufacturers processed agricultural produce, especially sheep and dairy products, into finished products. The early presence of the University of Canterbury and the heritage of the city's academic institutions working in association with local businesses has fostered a number of technology-based industries. The region now has a range of "new economy" sectors.

Tourism is also a significant factor of the local economy. The closeness of the ski-fields and other attractions of the Southern Alps and hotels and an airport that meets international standards make Christchurch a stopover destination for many tourists.


Christchurch's local government is a democracy that includes:

  • A city council [2] comprising a mayor, and 12 councillors elected in six wards.
  • Six community boards, each covering one ward, with three members each plus the two ward councillors.
  • The Canterbury Regional Council, known as Environment Canterbury including four Christchurch constituencies with two members from each constituency.
  • The Canterbury District Health Board, [3] with five members for Christchurch.
  • District councils in surrounding areas: Banks Peninsula, Selwyn, and Waimakariri.

In 1993, Christchurch was selected as the "Best Run City in the World", also known as the Carl Bertelsmann Prize, by the Bertelsmann Foundation of Germany, a branch of Bertelsmann media company. It shared the honor with Phoenix, Arizona, USA.


Archeological evidence found in a cave at Redcliffs indicates that the Christchurch area was first settled by moa-hunting tribes. Maori oral history tells that humans began living in the area around 1000 AD. These first inhabitants were thought to have been followed by the Waitaha who are thought to have migrated from the east coast of the North Island in the 16th century. However, Waitaha ( made of of three peoples ), had been in the land for centuries beforehand and Ngai Tahu have done their best to hide this. Following Waitaha were the Ngati Mamoe and Ngai Tahu who remained in control until the British did to them what they did to those before them.

Although there were European settlers from the 1830s, notably the Deans at Riccarton, what are regarded as the First Four Ships were chartered by the Canterbury Association, and arrived on 16 December 1850, bringing the first English settlers to Lyttelton Harbour. The four ships were Randolph, Charlotte Jane, Sir George Seymour, and Cressy.

Captain Thomas, the Canterbury Association's Chief Surveyor, surveyed the surrounding area. By December 1849 he had commissioned the construction of a road from Port Cooper, later called Lyttelton, to Christchurch via Sumner. However this proved more difficult than expected and road construction was stopped while a steep foot and pack horse track was constructed over the hill between the port and the Heathcote valley, where access to the site of the proposed settlement could be gained. This track became known as the Bridle Path, because the path was so steep that pack horses needed to be led by the bridle.

Goods that were too heavy or bulky to be transported by pack horse over the Bridle Path were shipped by small sailing vessels some eight miles by water around the coast and up the estuary to Ferrymead. New Zealand's first public railway line was opened from Ferrymead to Christchurch in 1863. Due to the difficulties in travelling over the Port Hills and the dangers associated with shipping navigating the Sumner bar, a railway tunnel was bored through the Port Hills to Lyttelton, opening in 1867.

Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on 31 July 1856, making it the oldest city in New Zealand. Many of the city's fine Gothic buildings by the architect Benjamin Mountfort date from this period.

Christchurch was the seat of provincial administration for the province of Canterbury.

A road tunnel was constructed between Lyttelton and Christchurch in the early 1960s.

In 1974 Christchurch was host to the Commonwealth Games.

Gateway to the Antarctic

Christchurch has played a significant role in the history of Antarctic exploration. Both Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton used the port of Lyttelton as a departure point for expeditions, and there is a statue of Scott (sculpted by his widow) in the central city.

Christchurch International Airport serves as the major base for the Italian and United States Antarctic Programs as well as the New Zealand Antarctic programme. The International Antarctic Centre provides both base facilities and a museum and visitor centre.

Tourist Attractions

Cathedral Square in Christchurch, with Christ Church in the background.



Christchurch has one full-time professional theatre, the Court Theatre (external link). There is also an active recreational theatre scene.


Christchurch has approximately 35 cinema screens, with more planned in the next few years. While historically most cinemas were grouped around Cathedral Square, only the Regent complex remains there. The largest multiplexes are the Hoyts 8 in the old railway station (Moorhouse Ave) and Reading Cinemas (8) in the Palms shopping centre in the suburb of Shirley. Hoyts in Riccarton, just recently opened, has the largest screen in New Zealand, called Cinemaxx.

The Christchurch Arts Centre includes two art house cinemas, Cloisters and The Academy, screening a wide selection of contemporary, classic and foreign language films. These cinemas participates in an annual film festival.

There is an active film society in the city.

Large Concert Venues

  • The Westpac Centre is New Zealand's largest permanent multipurpose arena, seating between 5000 - 8000 depending on configuration. It was the venue for the 1999 World Netball championships and has been host to many concerts in recent years including Neil Diamond, Rod Stewart, Velvet Revolver and many more major international acts.
  • The Town Hall Auditorium (2000 seats, opened 1974) was the first major auditorium design by architects Warren and Mahoney and acousticians Marshall Day. It is still recognised as a model example of concert-hall design. It has an excellent modern pipe organ.

Dance Parties

Christchurch has a wide range of dance parties. Information can be obtained from inner-city cafés such as C1 on High Street, or record stores. While most of the parties are either house or drum'n'bass, occasionally there are trance and hardhouse parties.

Live Music

The city has a wide range of venues for live music, some short-lived, others with decades of history.

Christchurch is home to a professional symphony orchestra, the CSO. There are also usually buskers around the town square.


Sports Played

Major Sporting Grounds

Educational institutions

A number of tertiary education institutions have campuses in Christchurch, or in the surrounding areas.


Christchurch is served by Christchurch International Airport and by buses (local and long-distance) and trains. The local bus service, known as Metro, is provided by Environment Canterbury, the Canterbury regional council.

Sister cities

Christchurch has six sister cities around the world. They are:

External links

Further reading

Amodeo, Colin (ed.) (1998). Rescue, the Sumner community and its lifeboat service. Christchurch: Sumner Lifeboat Institution Incorporated.

Template:Territorial Authorities of New Zealand

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