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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.
||the city, Kaiapoi,
Prebbleton, Lyttleton &
||Waimakariri River to the
Port Hills and west to
Banks Peninsula District
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. It is bounded, to the
east by the Pacific Ocean coast and the estuary of the Avon and Heathcote
rivers, to the south and south-east by the volcanic slopes of the Port Hills and
in the north by the Waimakariri river.
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
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.
Christchurch has a temperate climate, with temperatures in January ranging from
an average minimum of 12°C to an average maximum of 21°C, and from 1°C to 10°C
in July. Summer temperatures are often moderated by a sea breeze from the
northeast. A notable feature of the weather is the nor'wester, a hot föhn wind
that is associated with increases in suicide and domestic violence, and
occasionally reaches gale force and causes widespread damage to property.
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. In winter, it is not uncommon for snow to fall.
On 6 March 2001, the area administered by the Christchurch City Council had a
population of 316,227, 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.
The population is expected to grow to approximately 358,000 by 2021.
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 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
Christchurch's local government is a democracy that includes:
A city council comprised of a mayor, and 24 councillors elected in twelve wards.
Six community boards, each including two of the twelve wards, with three members
from each ward.
The Canterbury Regional Council, including four Christchurch constituencies with
two members from each constituency.
The Canterbury District Health Board, with five members for Christchurch.
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 followed by the Waitaha who are thought to have migrated from
the east coast of the North Island in the 16th century. This migration was
joined by the Ngati Mamoe and Ngai Tahu and continued until about 1830.
Although there were 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 December 16, 1850 bringing the first English
settlers to Lyttelton Harbour. The four ships were The Randolph, The 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 July 31, 1856, making it the
oldest city in New Zealand.
Christchurch was the seat of provincial administration for the province of
A road tunnel was constructed between Lyttelton and Christchurch in the early
In 1974 Christchurch was host to the Commonwealth Games.
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 the final 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 New Zealand and Italian Antarctic
programmes as well as the United States Antarctic Program. The International
Antarctic Centre provides both base facilities and a museum and visitor centre.
Cathedral Square in Christchurch.
Tourist Attractions include:
Deans Bush, the Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park.
Ferrymead Historic Park
International Antarctic Centre.
Christchurch City Art Gallery (opened 2003)
Historic electric tram.
The Christchurch Arts Centre and site of "Ernest Rutherford's Den".
The Provincial Chambers and the Anglican Cathedral in the Square.
The Timeball Station in Lyttelton.
The New Brighton Pier.
The Summit Road along the top of the Port Hills and Godley Head Road provides
numerous spectacular views of the area and features the buildings created as
wayside rests, the Sign of the Takahe (now a function centre) and Sign of the
Walkways include the Bridle Path and Whitewash Head, a bird sanctuary.
Christchurch has one full-time professional theatre, the Court Theatre. 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 central railway station (Moorhouse Ave) and Reading Cinemas (8) in
the Palms shopping centre in the suburb of Shirley.
The Westpac Centre is New Zealand's largest permanent multipurpose arena,
seating between 5000 - 8000 depending on configuration. It was the venue for the
2001 World Netball championships.
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.
Christchurch has a wide range of dance parties. Information can be obtained from
cafes such as C-ONE on High Street. While most of the parties are either house
or drum'n'bass, occasionally there are good trance parties.
Rugby Union, represented by the Canterbury Crusaders in the Super 12 competition
Golf The city has more than a dozen golf courses and has hosted the PGA-sanctioned
Clearwater Classic since 2002.
Netball, represented by the Canterbury Flames in the national league.
Yachting and windsurfing
Swimming, surfing, surf lifesaving, surfcasting and fishing
Hang gliding and parasailing
Colleges and universities
A number of tertiary education institutions have campuses in Christchurch, or in
the surrounding areas.
Christchurch College of Education
Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences (Otago University)
Southern Institute of Technology
University of Canterbury
Christchurch is served by Christchurch International Airport.