Christchurch City Guide
Christchurch is situated in the Canterbury region of the South Island of New Zealand. With a population of over 350, 000 Christchurch is the international gateway to the South Island.
Here you will find guides to help you discover the region's most popular attractions and activities. The mountains are only an hour and a half away, Canterbury boasts more than ten snow fields. Skiers and snowboarders travel here from all over the world to enjoy the reliable snow, wide range of runs and excellent equipment. The ski season ranges from June to September.
Christchurch, the second largest city in New Zealand, is situated in the Canterbury region. With a population of over 300,000 people, Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island, and the gateway for visitors touching down at Christchurch International Airport to explore not only the city, but also the surrounding region of Canterbury, from Kaikoura in the north to Waimate in the south, and the rest of the South Island of New Zealand.
The city was named by the Canterbury Association, which settled the surrounding province of Canterbury. The name of Christchurch was agreed on at the first meeting of the association on 27 March 1848. It was suggested by John Robert Godley, who had attended Christ Church, Oxford. Some early writers called the town Christ Church, but it was recorded as Christchurch in the minutes of the management committee of the association.
The river which flows through the centre of the city (its banks now largely forming an urban park) was named Avon at the request of the pioneering Deans brothers to commemorate the Scottish Avon, which rises in the Ayrshire hills near what was their grandfathers' farm and flows into the Clyde.The usual Maori name for Christchurch is Otautahi ("the place of Tautahi"). This was originally the name of a specific site by the Avon River near present-day Kilmore Street and the Christchurch Central Fire Station. The site was a seasonal dwelling of Ngai Tahu chief Te Potiki Tautahi, whose main home was Port Levy on Banks Peninsula. The Otautahi name was adopted in the 1930s. Prior to that the Ngai Tahu generally referred to the Christchurch area as Karaitiana
The mountains are only an hour and a half away, Canterbury boasts more than ten snow fields. Skiers and snowboarders travel here from all over the world to enjoy the reliable snow, wide range of runs and excellent equipment. The ski season ranges from June to September.
The beaches are beautiful, sandy, clean and almost empty. New Brighton is the longest, miles of sand with pine trees growing beside the sand dunes. Sumner beach has the picturesque Shag Rock at one end .If the tide is out you can walk down to Cave Rock, and along the Esplanade. Taylors Mistake Beach is over the next hill. This is a sheltered cove with baches (small houses used for weekend retreats) along the shore .The walk along the cliffs has some dramatic views. All of the beaches are great for swimming, surfing and sailing with lifeguards on duty.
Beyond the city, Canterbury has so many exciting features. Discover the rich marine environment at Kaikoura, or the action-attractions, wineries and thermal pools in Hurunui. Step back in Maori, French and British history in Akaroa, Canterbury’s oldest village, or explore the magnificent Southern Alps by road, rail or on foot. Further afield, sample the relaxed provincial New Zealand lifestyle at Ashburton or Timaru, or make Methven your base for skiing, golf and enjoying the region’s verdant countryside. And also within easy reach is the stunning Mount Cook/Mackenzie area, renowned for its scenery, wilderness and hospitality.
The city lies in Canterbury province, near the centre of the east coast of the South Island, east of the Canterbury Plains. It is located near the southern end of Pegasus Bay, and is bounded to the east by the Pacific Ocean coast and the estuary of the Avon as well as the Heathcote River.
To the south and south-east the urban portion of the city is limited by the volcanic slopes of the Port Hills separating it from the Banks Peninsula. As of 2006, the Banks Peninsula was incorporated into the city, in effect tripling the city's land area while adding only about 8,000 people to the city's population. To the north the city is bounded by the braided Waimakariri River.
If you have time for a full day trip, then Kaikoura Whale watching is a must do
Maori oral history suggests that people first inhabited the Canterbury area about a thousand years ago. These first inhabitants were moa-hunting tribes and these 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.
The first European landed in Canterbury in 1815, 45 years after Captain James Cook sighted what he named "Banks Island", later found to be a peninsula. In 1840 the first Europeans settled on the plains and whaling ships were operating out of Lyttelton by 1850. During 1850-1851 the first organised groups of English settlers, the founders of Christchurch, arrived on the 'first four ships' into Lyttelton Harbour. Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on July 31, 1856, making it officially the oldest established city in New Zealand.
In 1893 New Zealand women achieved a first in the world when they won the right to vote. This significant event was honoured in 1993 when the Kate Sheppard memorial, a commemoration to Women's Suffrage was unveiled on 19th September 1993. Canterbury's economy was built on primary products and Canterbury has long been recognised as living "off the sheep's back". Although its economic beginnings were in refrigerated sheep and dairy meats and in other dairy products, Canterbury now has a diversified regional economy with growth across a range of "new economy" sectors.
Christchurch has a temperate climate, with maximum temperatures in January ranging from 15 °C to 25 °C (59–77 °F) (often reaching 30 °C/86 °F or higher), and maximum temperatures in July ranging from 5 °C to 15 °C (41–59 °F). The summer climate is often moderated by a sea breeze from the Northeast, but a record temperature of 41.6 °C (107 °F) was reached in February 1973. A notable feature of the weather is the nor'wester, a hot wind that occasionally reaches storm force, causing widespread minor damage to property. In winter it is common for the temperature to fall below 0 °C (32 °F) at night. There are on average 70 days of ground frost per year. Snow falls occur on average once or twice a year in the hill suburbs and about once or twice every two years on the plain.
The area administered by the Christchurch City Council has a population of 368,900 (June 2008 estimate), making it the second-largest in New Zealand, and the largest city in the South Island. The Christchurch urban area is the second-largest in the country by population, after Auckland.
The agricultural industry has always been the economic core of Christchurch. The city has long had industry based on the surrounding farming country. Other agribusineses in Christchurch have included malting, seed development and dressing, wool and meat processing, and small biotechnology operations using byproducts from meat works.
Dairying has grown strongly in the surrounding areas with high world prices for milk products and the use of irrigation to lift grass growth on dry land. With its higher labour use this has helped stop declines in rural population. Many cropping and sheep farms have been converted to dairying. Conversions have been by agribusiness companies as well as by farmers, many of whom have moved south from North Island.
Cropping has always been important in the surrounding countryside. Wheat and barley and various strains of clover and other grasses for seed exporting have been the main crops. These have all created processing businesses in Christchurch. Deer farming has led to new processing using antlers for Asian medicine and aphrodisiacs.
In recent years, regional agriculture has diversified, with a thriving wine industry springing up at Waipara, and beginnings of new horticulture industries such as olive production and processing The high quality local wine in particular has increased the appeal of Canterbury and Christchurch to tourists.
Before clothing manufacture largely moved to Asia, Christchurch was the centre of the New Zealand clothing industry, with firms such as LWR Industries. The firms that remain mostly design and market, and manufacture in Asia. The city also had five footwear manufacturers, but these have been replaced by imports.
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, a casino, and an airport that meet international standards make Christchurch a stopover destination for many tourists. The city is popular with Japanese tourists, with signage around Cathedral Square in Japanese.