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Ōtautahi (Māori)
Metropolitan area
Clockwise from top: Christchurch skyline with Southern Alps in background, New Brighton and the Port Hills, a Christchurch tram, the Christchurch Art Gallery, St James Park in autumn, the Peacock Fountain in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, and ChristChurch Cathedral in Cathedral Square
Flag of Christchurch
Coat of arms of Christchurch
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): The Garden City
Motto: Fide Condita Fructu Beata Spe Fortis
Founded in Faith, Rich in the Fulfillment thereof, Strong in Hope for the Future
Christchurch is located in New Zealand
Country  New Zealand
Island South Island
Region Canterbury
Territorial authority Christchurch City Council
Settled by the UK 1848
 • Mayor Lianne Dalziel
 • Territorial 1,426 km2 (551 sq mi)
 • Urban 607.73 km2 (234.65 sq mi)
Highest elevation 920 m (3,020 ft)
Lowest elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (June 2015 estimate)[1]
 • Territorial 367,800
 • Density 260/km2 (670/sq mi)
 • Urban 381,800
 • Urban density 630/km2 (1,600/sq mi)
 • Demonym Cantabrian
Time zone NZST (UTC+12)
 • Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13)
Postcode(s) 8011, 8013, 8014, 8022, 8023, 8024, 8025, 8041, 8042, 8051, 8052, 8053, 8061, 8062, 8081, 8082, 8083
Area code(s) 03
Local iwi Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mamoe
High, Manchester and Lichfield Streets in Christchurch, 1923

Christchurch (; Māori: Ōtautahi) is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Canterbury Region. The Christchurch urban area lies on the South Island's east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula. It is home to 381,800 residents,[1] making it New Zealand's third most-populous urban area behind Auckland and Wellington.

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.[2] Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on 31 July 1856, making it officially the oldest established city in New Zealand.

The river that 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.[2]

The usual Māori name for Christchurch is Ōtautahi ("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 Ngāi Tahu chief Te Potiki Tautahi, whose main home was Port Levy on Banks Peninsula. The Ōtautahi name was adopted in the 1930s. Prior to that the Ngāi Tahu generally referred to the Christchurch area as Karaitiana,[3] a transliteration of the English word Christian. The city's name is often abbreviated by New Zealanders to Chch.[4][5] In New Zealand Sign Language, the city's name is the fingerspelled letter C (made by forming the hand into a C shape) signed twice, with the second to the right of the first, while mouthing "Christchurch".[6]


  • History 1
    • Overview 1.1
    • 2010–2012 earthquakes 1.2
    • Post-earthquake recovery 1.3
    • Gateway to the Antarctic 1.4
  • Geography 2
    • Central City 2.1
    • Inner suburbs 2.2
    • Outer suburbs 2.3
    • Satellite towns 2.4
    • Climate 2.5
  • Demographics 3
    • Ethnicity 3.1
  • Economy 4
  • Government 5
  • Education 6
    • Secondary schools 6.1
    • Tertiary institutions 6.2
  • Transport 7
  • Culture and entertainment 8
    • Cinema 8.1
    • Parks and nature 8.2
    • Television 8.3
    • Theatre 8.4
    • Music 8.5
    • Venues 8.6
  • Sport 9
    • Teams 9.1
    • Events 9.2
    • Venues 9.3
  • Twin towns – Sister cities 10
  • Notable residents 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


ChristChurch Cathedral before its partial collapse in the 2011 earthquakes


Archeological evidence found in a cave at Cressy. The Charlotte Jane was the first to arrive on 16 December 1850. The Canterbury Pilgrims had aspirations of building a city around a cathedral and college, on the model of Christ Church in Oxford.[8]

The name "Christ Church" was decided prior to the ships' arrival, at the Association's first meeting, on 27 March 1848. The exact basis for the name is not known. It has been suggested that it is named for Christchurch, in Dorset, England; for Canterbury Cathedral; or in honour of Christ Church, Oxford. The last explanation is the one generally accepted.[9]

Captain Joseph 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 Lyttelton, to Christchurch via Sumner.[10] 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.[11] 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 (13 km) by water around the coast and up the estuary to Ferrymead. New Zealand's first public railway line, the Ferrymead railway, 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.[12]

Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on 31 July 1856, the first in New Zealand. Many of the city's Gothic Revival buildings by architect Benjamin Mountfort date from this period. Christchurch was the seat of provincial administration for the Province of Canterbury, which was abolished in 1876. In 1947, New Zealand's worst fire disaster occurred at Ballantyne's Department Store in the inner city, with 41 people killed in a blaze which razed the rambling collection of buildings.[13] The Lyttelton road tunnel between Lyttelton and Christchurch was opened in 1964.[14] Christchurch hosted the 1974 British Commonwealth Games.

2010–2012 earthquakes

The collapsed Pyne Gould Building. Thirty of the building's two hundred workers were trapped within the building following the February earthquake.[15]

On Saturday 4 September 2010, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Christchurch and the central Canterbury region at 4:35 am. Located near Darfield, west of the city at a depth of 10 kilometres (6.2 mi), it caused widespread damage to the city and minor injuries, but no direct fatalities.[16][17][18]

Nearly six months later on Tuesday 22 February 2011, [27]

On 13 June 2011 Christchurch was again rocked by two more large aftershocks. A 5.6 at only 9 km (6 mi) deep hit at 1:00 pm in the general location of Sumner, Christchurch. This was followed by another 6.3 at only 6 km (4 mi) deep at 2:20 pm again in the general location of Sumner, Christchurch. This resulted in more liquefaction and building damage, but no more lives were lost.[28]

There were further earthquakes on 23 December 2011; the first, of magnitude 5.8 according to the US Geological Survey, 26 km (16 mi) north-east of the city at a depth of 4.7 km (2.9 mi), at 13:58, followed by several aftershocks and another earthquake of magnitude 6.0 and similar location 80 minutes later, with more aftershocks expected.[29][30] St John Ambulance reported after the two quakes that there were minor injuries at homes and businesses but no serious injuries and few indications of building collapses at the time.[31] Christchurch airport was briefly closed. There were power and water outages at New Brighton and severe damage to the Parklands region, including roads and footpaths.

Christchurch was again rattled awake on 2 January 2012; the first; a magnitude 5.1 struck at 01:27 followed five minutes later by a magnitude 4.2 aftershock; a second larger earthquake struck at 05:45 with a magnitude of 5.5. This caused power outages to the eastern suburbs of Parklands, New Brighton, Shirley, Dallington, Burwood, Spencerville and Richmond; this affected around 10,000 homes.[32]

4,558 earthquakes were recorded in the Canterbury region above a magnitude 3.0, from 4 September 2010 to 3 September 2014.[33]

Cherry blossom trees in Spring bloom and a historic water wheel, located on a small island in the Avon River at the corner of Oxford Terrace and Hereford Street, Hagley Park in the city centre.

Over 1000 buildings in the CBD, which is about a third of the total buildings within the four avenues, were demolished following the earthquakes. A small number of buildings are still awaiting demolition, undergoing demolition or awaiting decisions regarding their future. [5] For an overview of the city's buildings since the earthquakes see: List of tallest buildings in Christchurch.

Post-earthquake recovery

The city has been experiencing rapid growth following the earthquakes, with the central city rebuild, which is outlined in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan, starting to ramp up, and massive growth in the residential sector, with around 50,000 new houses expected to be constructed in the Greater Christchurch area by 2028, as outlined in the Land Use Recovery Plan (LURP).

A number of urban regeneration initiatives have emerged in the city following the earthquakes, that have provided transitional recovery measures and projects, such as Gap Filler,[34] Life in Vacant Spaces [35] and Greening the Rubble.[36]

Gateway to the Antarctic

Christchurch has a history of involvement in Antarctic exploration–both Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton used the port of Lyttelton as a departure point for expeditions, and in the central city there is a statue of Scott sculpted by his widow, Kathleen Scott. Within the city, the Canterbury Museum preserves and exhibits many historic artefacts and stories of Antarctic exploration. Christchurch International Airport serves as the major base for the New Zealand, Italian and United States Antarctic programs.

The International Antarctic Centre provides both base facilities and a museum and visitor centre focused upon current Antarctic activities. The United States Navy and latterly the United States Air National Guard, augmented by the New Zealand and Australian air forces, use Christchurch Airport as take-off for the main supply route to McMurdo and Scott Bases in Antarctica. The Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) in Christchurch, had more than 140,000 pieces of extreme cold weather (ECW) gear for issue to nearly 2,000 U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) participants in the 2007–08 season.[37]


Satellite image showing Christchurch and surrounding areas.
View of the Christchurch region from the International Space Station.

Christchurch lies in Canterbury, 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 and Heathcote Rivers. 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 Banks Peninsula. In 2006, Banks Peninsula was incorporated into the city, in effect tripling the city's land area[38] while adding only about 8,000 people to the city's population. To the north the city is bounded by the braided Waimakariri River.

Christchurch is one of only eight pairs of cities in the world that have near-exact antipodal cities. Half of these antipodal pairs are in New Zealand and Spain/Morocco–with A Coruña, Spain as Christchurch's antipode.

Christchurch is one of a group of only four cities in the world to have been carefully planned following the same layout of a central city square, four complementing city squares surrounding it and a parklands area that embrace the city centre. The first city built with this pattern was Philadelphia. Later came Savannah and Adelaide, before Christchurch. As such, Christchurch holds an important legacy and a strong platform for future development.

Christchurch has one of the highest-quality water supplies in the world, with its water rated among the purest and cleanest in the world.[39] Untreated, naturally filtered water is sourced, via more than 50 pumping stations surrounding the city, from aquifers emanating from the foothills of the Southern Alps.[40]

Central City

July snowfall on Cobham Intermediate School grounds

At the city's centre is Cathedral Square, surrounding the now-earthquake-damaged – landmark Anglican cathedral, Christ Church. The area around this square and within the Four Avenues of Christchurch (Bealey Avenue, Fitzgerald Avenue, Moorhouse Avenue and Deans Avenue[41]) is considered to be the central business district (CBD) of the city. The central city also has a number of residential areas, including Inner City East, Inner City West, Avon Loop, Moa Neighbourhood and Victoria, but many of the residential buildings in the CBD were demolished following the February 2011 Earthquakes. Cathedral Square is located at the crossing of two major central streets, Colombo Street and Worcester Street.

Cathedral Square, the heart of the city, hosted attractions such as (until the February 2011 Earthquake)[42] the Wizard of New Zealand, Ian Brackenbury Channell, and evangelist Ray Comfort; regular market days; free standing food and coffee carts; an aquarium, pubs and restaurants and the city's chief tourist information centre. it is expected that activities in Cathedral Square will increase as the rebuild progresses. The Wizard of New Zealand now operates from New Regent Street.[43]

The central city also includes the pedestrianised sections of Cashel and High streets commonly known pre-earthquakes as 'City Mall'. Refurbished in 2008/09 the mall featured especially designed seating, flower and garden boxes, more trees, paving, and an extension to the central city tram route. The tram route extension was nearly complete when the February 2011 Earthquake struck. Following the earthquakes, most buildings in Cashel Mall were demolished. A shopping area called Re:START opened on Cashel Street adjacent to Ballantyne's Department Store in October 2011. The Re:START mall is made of colourful shipping containers that have been converted to house retail stores. The Bridge of Remembrance commemorating war dead stands at the western end of the mall, and is being repaired and earthquake strengthened, with hopes of repairs being partially completed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I in August 2014 and being fully completed in time to commemorate ANZAC Day 2015.[44]

The Cultural Precinct[45] provided a backdrop to a vibrant scene of ever-changing arts, cultural, and heritage attractions within an area of less than one square kilometre. The Arts Centre, the Canterbury Museum and the Art Gallery are located in the Cultural Precinct. The majority of the activities were free and a printable map was provided. There areas are slowly being reopened follow earthquake repair and strengthening work.

In 2010, the Christchurch City Council released "A City For People Action Plan", a programme of work through to 2022 to improve public spaces within the central city to entice more inner city residents and visitors. A primary action was to reduce the impact of motorised private vehicles and increase the comfort of pedestrians and cyclists. The plan was based on a report prepared for the council by renowned Danish design firm Gehl Architects. Since the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake Wellington architect Ian Athfield has been selected to re-plan, although many varied suggestions have been promoted for rebuilding the central city[46][47][48][49]

The Central City, which was fully closed off following the 22 February Earthquake, opened in stages and was fully reopened in June 2013. There are still some streets closed off due to earthquake damage, infrastructure repair work, and damaged buildings.[50]

Inner suburbs

(clockwise, starting north of the city centre)

Outer suburbs

(clockwise, starting north of the city centre)

Satellite towns


Climate chart ()
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm

Christchurch has a temperate climate with moderate rainfall. It has mean daily maximum air temperatures of 22.5 °C (73 °F) in January and 11.3 °C (52 °F) in July.[51] Under the Köppen climate classification, Christchurch has an oceanic climate (Cfb). Summer in the city is mostly warm but is often moderated by a sea breeze from the Northeast. 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 föhn wind that occasionally reaches storm force, causing widespread minor damage to property.[52] Christchurch experiences the urban heat island phenomenon, similar to cities such as Tokyo, London and New York City, making temperatures feel warmer than they actually are within the inner city regions.[53]

In winter it is common for the temperature to fall below 0 °C (32 °F) at night. There are on average 99 days of ground frost per year.[54] Snowfalls occur on average three times per year, although in some years no snowfall is recorded.[55] The coldest temperature recorded was −7.1 °C (19 °F) on 18 July 1945, the third lowest recorded temperature of New Zealand's major cities.[55][56]

On cold winter nights, the surrounding hills, clear skies, and

  • Christchurch maps (from
  • Christchurch maps (from
  • Heritage Maps (from Christchurch City Libraries)

Tourism and maps

  • (music industry portal)
  • Christchurch City Libraries (official libraries website)
  • Christchurch & Canterbury (official tourism guide & visitor information)
  • CINCH (Community information Christchurch)
  • BeThere (events in Christchurch and Canterbury)
  • (official website promoting Christchurch)
  • Ti Kouka Whenua (local Māori history of the Christchurch area)
  • The Big City (private website listing events, New Zealand music info archive)

Culture and information

  • Christchurch City Council (official council website)
  • Environment Canterbury (official regional council website)
  • Canterbury District Health Board (official district health board website)

Official organisations

External links

  • Reed, A.W. (2002) The Reed dictionary of New Zealand place names. Auckland: Reed Books. ISBN 0-790-00761-4.
  • Rice, Geoffrey (with assistance from Jean Sharfe)(1999) Christchurch changing: an illustrated history Christchurch: Canterbury University Press. ISBN 0-908812-53-1 (pbk.)


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  2. ^ a b A History of Canterbury, Vol. 1 – Sir James Hight & Straubel, C.R.; Canterbury Centennial Association and Whitcombe and Tombs, Christchurch 1957, Page 121
  3. ^ Ōtautahi (from the Christchurch City Library website)
  4. ^ "Chch ready...", The Southland Times
  5. ^ "...injured in Chch bus crash", The Star
  6. ^ "Christchurch – New Zealand Sign Language Online". Deaf Studies Research Unit,  
  7. ^ "Deans cottage web site". Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  8. ^ Cathedral History (from the official ChristChurch cathedral website). Archived 17 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Cowie, D.J. (2 July 1934). "How Christchurch Got Its Name: A Controverted Subject". The New Zealand Railways Magazine (New Zealand Railways) 9 (4): 31.  
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  32. ^ "Quake swarm rattles Christchurch". Stuff. 
  33. ^ "Canterbury Aftershocks". Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  34. ^ "Gap Filler". 
  35. ^ "Life In Vacant Spaces — Home". 
  36. ^ "Greening The Rubble". 
  37. ^ "Looking good in the Antarctic". Clothing Distribution Center in Christchurch, New Zealand, outfits USAP participants for the trip south. The Antarctic Sun. 10 January 2008. Retrieved 13 January 2008. 
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  39. ^ "Community Outcomes Baseline Report". Christchurch City Council. 4 September 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  40. ^ "Where our water comes from". Christchurch City Council. 4 September 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  41. ^ "Christchurch City Council definition" (PDF). Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  42. ^ Ensor, Blair (24 February 2011). "Damaged city too much for Wizard".  
  43. ^ The Wizard of Chritchurch Retrieved 12 August 2015. 
  44. ^ "The Bridge of Remembrance". Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  45. ^ "Welcome to Christchurch's Cultural Precinct". The Cultural Precinct of Christchurch. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  46. ^ "Architects begin to look at rebuild of Christchurch". 1 March 2011. 
  47. ^ "Rebuilding Christchurch". Retrieved 26 March 2011. 
  48. ^ "'"Rebuilding Christchurch with wood is a 'New Zealand solution. 
  49. ^ "Elevated Garden City rebuilding our beloved Christchurch for the 21st century". 
  50. ^ "Christchurch red zone cordon finally lifted".  
  51. ^ "Mean Daily Maximum Temperatures 1971–2000". National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research. Retrieved 25 January 2009. 
  52. ^ Canterbury's damaging nor'wester (from the Metservice NZ website)
  53. ^ Tapper, NJ; Tyson, PD; Owens, IF; Hastie, WJ (1981). "Modeling the Winter Urban Heat Island Over Christchurch, New Zealand". American Meteorological Society 20: 289.  
  54. ^ Mean Number Of Days Of Ground Frost (from the NIWA website)
  55. ^ a b "The Climate of Christchurch" (PDF). New Zealand Meteorological Service. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  56. ^ "Summary climate information for selected New Zealand location". 
  57. ^ Air Pollution Today (from the Environment Canterbury website)
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  59. ^ (from the Environment Canterbury website)
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  63. ^
  64. ^ a b c "Christchurch’s Pacific community leaders say people seem ok after earthquake".  
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  68. ^ "Historical Context". Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  69. ^ "Manufacturing Jobs in Christchurch". CDC. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  70. ^ "IT Jobs in Christchurch". Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  71. ^ The Sister City link with Christchurch (from, a Christchurch City Council website)
  72. ^ Environment Canterbury (official regional council website)
  73. ^ Canterbury District Health Board (official district health board website)
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See also

By date of birth:

Notable residents

Christchurch has seven sister cities around the world. They are:[109]

Twin towns – Sister cities

  • AMI Stadium (formerly Jade Stadium & Lancaster Park) was Christchurch's premier outdoor sporting ground, which played host to rugby union in the winter months and cricket in the summer months. It was home to the Crusaders Super Rugby and Canterbury Air New Zealand Cup rugby teams. It was also used by the New Zealand national cricket team and occasionally hosted a New Zealand Warriors rugby league match. AMI Stadium had a capacity of around 40,000 people for sporting fixtures, and around 50,000 for concerts. Severely damaged during the 2011 February Earthquake, the facility's future is uncertain.[107]
  • Queen Elizabeth II Park was built for the 1974 British Commonwealth Games, which Christchurch hosted. It is used primarily as an athletics park, but also contains a newly upgraded swimming pool complex. It has hosted major concerts from bands such as AC/DC and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The facility has been demolished due to damage sustained in 22 February earthquake.[108]
  • Nunweek Park in Bishopdale is the main hockey venue in the city. Porritt Park in Avonside was the main venue until the 2010 Canterbury earthquake, when it was damaged by liquefaction.
  • Horncastle Arena in Addington, Christchurch. Hosted the 1999 Netball World Championships and continues to host international basketball and netball games.
  • Hagley Oval has been used on-and-off as a venue for local, national and international cricket matches for decades, and in 2013 it was announced that a new cricket venue will be built on the site.
  • Christchurch has more than a dozen golf courses, and has hosted the PGA Tour of Australasia/Nationwide Tour co-sanctioned Clearwater Classic/NZ PGA Championship at Clearwater Resort since 2002.
  • Alpine Ice is an ice skating rink home to the Canterbury Red Devils. It has hosted many national and international Ice Hockey tournaments, figure skating and speed skating events. The rink is home to Ice Sports in Canterbury, in turn hosting numerous Ice Sports Clubs including the Canterbury Ice Hockey Association.
  • English Park in St Albans is the home venue for the Christchurch United Soccer team that plays in the national league.
  • Malvern Park in Merivale hosts inter-high school competition matches as well as minor league matches. Also training grounds for the Canterbury Crusaders.
Winter afternoon on the Christchurch coast





In late 2014 it was announced that a 284 million dollar project was underway to build a convention centre located on the block defined by Armagh Street, Oxford Terrace, Worcester Street and Colombo Street. Gloucester Street will become part of the Centre itself, but will allow for retail use and public access. The Centre will be able to host several events at the same time; starting with space for up to 2,000 people, this will complement facilities in Auckland and Queenstown. The Centre is scheduled to be open for business at the end of 2018.[105]

Christchurch also has a casino,[103] and there are also a wide range of live music venues[95][104]—some short-lived, others with decades of history. Classical music concerts are held at the Christchurch Music Centre.

The 2011 Christchurch earthquake, and its repair/rebuild is not yet certain.

The Horncastle Arena is New Zealand's second largest permanent multipurpose arena, seating between 5000 and 8000, depending on configuration. It is home of the Canterbury Tactix netball side. It was the venue for the 1999 World Netball championships and has been host to many concerts in recent years.

Weston House, built in the colonial style


In recent movements, hip hop has effectively landed in Christchurch. In 2000, First Aotearoa Hip Hop Summit was held there. And in 2003, Christchurch’s own Scribe released his debut album in New Zealand and has received five times platinum in that country, in addition to achieving two number one singles.[101][102]

Some of New Zealand's acts such as Shapeshifter, Ladi6 , Tiki Taane and Truth are from Christchurch. Promoters, Venues and clubs such as Bassfreaks, The Bedford and Dux Live regularly have international and New Zealand acts within the Drum and Bass scene performing live in Christchurch, along with dance parties, raves and gigs all featuring NZ and local Drum and Bass DJs, with often two or three happening on a single night or weekend (e.g. 2010 when UK Dubstep DJ Doctor P with Crushington was playing at The Bedford, while simultaneously Concord Dawn featuring Trei and Bulletproof was playing at Ministry). Independent Christchurch based radio station Pulzar FM is one of the few radio stations in New Zealand that plays Drum and Bass during the day.

Christchurch also has a Metal scene, with metal acts playing in various locations around the central city.

There are usually buskers around the town square and Christchurch also hosts the World Buskers Festival in January each year. Singer/songwriter Hayley Westenra launched her international career by busking in Christchurch. Soon she was signed to Universal Music Group New Zealand, then later to Decca Label Group in London, England, where she now bases her career.

The city is known for its many live acts,[95][96][97][98] has a professional symphony orchestra,[99] and is the base of professional opera company, Southern Opera.[100] Christchurch is a home for experimental music scene of New Zealand. The town is the home to such bands as The Bats, The Narcs, Shocking Pinks and Bailter Space.


Christchurch has one full-time professional theatre, the Court Theatre,[88] founded in 1971. Originally based in the Christchurch Arts Centre, the Court Theatre has been located in the suburb of Addington in temporary accommodation following the 2011 earthquakes. Alongside the Court, the co-operative and experimental Free Theatre Christchurch was established in 1979 and based in the Arts Centre from 1982.[89] There is also an active recreational theatre scene with community based theatre companies, such as the Christchurch Repertory Society,[90] Elmwood Players,[91] Riccarton Players,[92] and Canterbury Children's Theatre,[93] producing many quality shows. The Ngaio Marsh Theatre, located at the University of Canterbury, hosts a range of student drama groups, as well as other theatre groups. The Isaac Theatre Royal was originally opened in 1863, and has since been rebuilt four times, most recently following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.[94] The Isaac Theatre Royal reopened to the public on 17 November 2014/


The city's main television transmitter is located atop Sugarloaf, in the Port Hills due south of the city centre, and broadcasts all major national television channels as well as the two local channels. All television channels in Christchurch have been broadcast in digital since analogue switch-off on 28 April 2013.

VTV, a Korean TV channel airs in Christchurch (also Auckland). It offers English content about Korea, from arirang World, and Korean-speaking content in SBS. This channel broadcast many of the latest dramas airing in Korea.

Christchurch has its own regional television station Canterbury Television. CTV was first formed in 1991 and still today reflects the Canterbury community through locally made programmes. It airs both local, national and international content, namely DW-TV and Aljazeera World.


The large number of public parks and well-developed residential gardens with many trees has given Christchurch the name of The Garden City.[87] Hagley Park and the 30-hectare (75 acre) Christchurch Botanic Gardens, founded in 1863, are in the central city, with Hagley Park being a site for sports such as golf, cricket, netball, and rugby, and for open-air concerts by local bands and orchestras. To the north of the city is the Willowbank wildlife park. Travis Wetland, an ecological restoration programme to create a wetland, is to the east of the city centre in the suburb of Burwood.

Parks and nature

The matricidal Peter Jackson film Heavenly Creatures (1994), starring Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet, was set in Christchurch.[86]

The Canterbury Film Society is active in the city.[85]

The Christchurch Arts Centre includes two art house cinemas, Cloisters and The Academy, screening a wide selection of contemporary, classic and foreign language films.

The Rialto Cinemas on Moorhouse avenue specialised in international films and art house productions. The Rialto also hosted the majority of the city's various film festivals and was home to the local film society. The Rialto was closed following the February 2011 earthquake.

Only one of the first generation of suburban cinemas, the Hollywood in Sumner, remains open.[83] The largest multiplexes were the Hoyts 8 in the old railway station on Moorhouse Avenue (now demolished) and Reading Cinemas (also eight screens) in the Palms shopping centre in Shirley. Hoyts in Riccarton opened in 2005[84] with one of its screens for a time holding the record for the largest in New Zealand.

While historically most cinemas were grouped around Cathedral Square,[82] only two cinemas remain there. The Regent complex was rebuilt as 'Regent on Worcester' in 1996. In 2009 Metro Cinemas opened in Worcester Street with three screens.


Christchurch is a distinctly English city, however it contains various European elements, with strong Gothic Revival architecture. As early settlers of New Zealand, Māori culture is also prevalent in the city. It features many public open spaces and parks, river beds and cafes and restaurants situated in the city centre and surrounding suburbs.

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, partially demolished in the 2011 earthquake

Culture and entertainment

Rail services, both long-distance and commuter, used to focus on the former railway station on Moorhouse avenue. Commuter trains were progressively cancelled in the 1960s and 1970s. The last such service, between Christchurch and Rangiora, ceased in 1976. After the reduction in services a new Christchurch railway station was established at Addington Junction. The Main North Line railway travels northwards via Kaikoura to Picton and is served by the TranzCoastal passenger train, while the Main South Line heads to Invercargill via Dunedin and was used by the Southerner until its cancellation in 2002. The most famous train to depart Christchurch is the TranzAlpine, which travels along the Main South Line to Rolleston and then turns onto the Midland Line, passes through the Southern Alps via the Otira Tunnel, and terminates in Greymouth on the West Coast. This trip is often regarded as one of the ten great train journeys in the world for the amazing scenery through which it passes. The TranzAlpine service is primarily a tourist service and carries no significant commuter traffic.

There is a functioning Christchurch tramway system in Christchurch, but as a tourist attraction; its loop is restricted to a circuit of the central city. The trams were originally introduced in 1905 as a form of public transport, and ceased operating in 1954,[81] but returned to the inner city (as a tourist attraction) in 1995. However, following the February 2011 Earthquake, the system was damaged and within the cordoned off 'Red Zone' of the central city. The tramway reopened in November 2013 on a limited route, with plans to extend the tram route in 2014, first to reopen the complete pre-earthquake circuit, and then to open the extension traveling through the Re:Start Mall and High Street, which was being constructed when the 2011 Earthquake struck.

The Christchurch City Council has committed NZ$68.5 million to build a network of modern cycleways over the next five years.[7]

Christchurch Brill Tram No 178 on the heritage tramway in inner-city Christchurch.

Historically, Christchurch has been known as New Zealand's cycling city[79] and currently still attracts about 7% of commuters cycling. The central city has very flat terrain and the Christchurch City Council has established a network of cycle lanes and paths, such as the Railway Cycleway. Post-quake public consultation on rebuilding the city expressed a strong desire for a more sustainable transport system, particularly greater use of cycling again, and this has been reflected in the Council's strategic transport plan.[80]

Christchurch has an extensive bus network with bus routes serving most areas of the city and satellite towns. Nearly all bus routes travelled through the central city Bus Exchange before the earthquake but due to reduced passenger numbers since the earthquakes, especially in the central city, the bus network was reorganised to direct more localised services to 'hubs', such as major shopping centers, where they connect to the central station via core bus routes. Before the 2011 earthquakes, in addition to normal bus services, Christchurch also had a pioneering zero-fare hybrid bus service, the Shuttle, in the inner city. The service has been suspended following the earthquakes and it is unclear whether it will resume again in the future.[6] Bus services are also available leaving Christchurch, daily passenger bus services [78] operates between Dunedin and Christchurch on the State Highway 1.

Christchurch is served by Christchurch International Airport and by buses (local and long-distance) and trains. The local bus service, known as Metro,[77] is provided by Environment Canterbury. The car, however, remains the dominant form of transport in the city, as with the rest of New Zealand.


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

Tertiary institutions

Christchurch is also well known for several traditional schools of the English public school type, such as St Thomas of Canterbury College, St Margaret's College, Christ's College, St Bede's College, Marian College, St Andrew's College, Villa Maria College and Rangi Ruru Girls' School, but also has several less conventional schools such as Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti and Hagley Community College.

Christchurch is the location of Burnside High School, the fourth largest school in New Zealand with 2,506 pupils.[76] Cashmere High School at Rose Street is another large co-educational secondary school. In recent years, Papanui High School has undergone rapid growth to reach a similar size. Riccarton High School was one of the first state schools in the country to adopt a strong values base – the Riccarton Way. There are several single-sex schools; Shirley Boys' High School and Christchurch Boys' High School are the two state boys' high schools, Avonside Girls' High School and Christchurch Girls' High School are the state girls' high schools in Christchurch.

Secondary schools

The University of Canterbury is a tertiary education provider for Christchurch
Ivey Hall at Lincoln University
Students playing cricket at Christchurch Boys' High School


Some of the local governments in Canterbury and the New Zealand Transport Agency have created the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy to facilitate future urban planning.[75]

In 1993, Christchurch was selected as the "Best Run City in the World", also known as the 'Carl Bertelsmann Prize: Local Government', by the Bertelsmann Foundation of Germany. Especially noted was the increased efficiency of communal services in competition with private enterprises. Christchurch shared the award honour with Phoenix, Arizona, USA.[74]

  • Christchurch City Council, comprising the Mayor of Christchurch, and 13 councillors elected in seven wards: two each from Shirley-Papanui, Burwood-Pegasus, Hagley-Ferrymead, Spreydon-Heathcote, Riccarton-Wigram and Fendalton-Waimari, and one from Banks Peninsula.
  • Community boards (six in the pre-amalgamation city area), each covering one ward, with five members each plus the two ward councillors. The Banks Peninsula ward has two community boards with five members each, plus the ward councillor, who is also a member of each board.
  • District councils in surrounding areas: Selwyn, and Waimakariri. The Banks Peninsula district council was amalgamated into Christchurch City in March 2006 after a vote by the Banks Peninsula residents to disestablish in November 2005.
  • Canterbury Regional Council, known as 'Environment Canterbury', including four Christchurch constituencies with two members from each constituency.[72]
  • District Health Board (Canterbury), with five members for Christchurch.[73]

Christchurch's local government is a democracy with various elements including:

The Canterbury Provincial Council Building


In recent times, the University of Canterbury engineering school and computer science department play an important role in supplying staff and research for the technology industries, and the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology provides a flow of trained technicians and engineers. Locally and nationally, the IT sector is known not for its size (the third largest in New Zealand) but for producing innovative and entrepreneurial solutions, products and concepts.[70] Similarly, nearby Lincoln University has played an important role in Christchurch agribusiness. Tourism is also a significant factor of the local economy. The close proximity 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,[71] with signage around Cathedral Square in Japanese.

Christchurch is the second largest manufacturing centre in New Zealand behind Auckland, the sector being the second largest contributor to the local economy,[69] with firms such as Anderson's making steel work for bridges, tunnels, and hydro-electric dams in the early days of infrastructure work. Now manufacturing is mainly of light products and the key market is Australia, with firms such as those pioneered by the Stewart family among the larger employers. 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. In the last few decades, technology-based industries have sprung up in Christchurch. Angus Tait founded Tait Electronics, a mobile-radio manufacturer, and other firms spun off from this, such as Dennis Chapman's Swichtec. Tait protégés include Chapman. In software, Gil Simpson founded LINC, which became Jade. However, there have been spin-offs from the electrical department of the University of Canterbury engineering school. These included Pulse Data, which became Human Ware (making reading devices and computers for blind people and those with limited vision) and CES Communications (encryption). The Pulse Data founders had moved from the Canterbury University engineering school to work for Wormald Inc. when they set up Pulse Data through a management buyout of their division.

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. 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. Deer farming has led to new processing using antlers for Asian medicine and aphrodisiacs. The high quality local wine in particular has increased the appeal of Canterbury and Christchurch to tourists.

The agricultural industry has always been the economic core of Christchurch. The city has long had industry based on the surrounding farming country - part of the original "package" New Zealand was sold to immigrants as.[68] PGG Wrightson, New Zealand's leading agribusiness, is based in Christchurch. Its local roots go back to Pyne Gould Guinness, an old stock and station agency serving the South Island. That firm helped take deer farming techniques abroad. PGG Wrightson's overseas diversification includes dairy farming in Uruguay. Other agribusinesses in Christchurch have included malting, seed development and dressing, wool and meat processing, and small biotechnology operations using by-products 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 dairying strongholds such as Taranaki and the Waikato.


The 2006 Census also provides information about the multilinguality of the region. Of those people in Christchurch City who provided data, 86% spoke one language only, 12% spoke two, and 2% could converse in three or more languages.[66]

Ethnic Group 2001 census 2006 census 2013 census
Percentage People[65] National average Percent People[66] National average Percent People[67] National average
European 89.8 291,594 75.4 255,366 67.6 83.9 273,303 74.0
Asian 5.5 17,703 7.9 26,631 9.2 9.4 30,717 11.8
Māori 7.2 23,421 7.6 25,725 14.7 8.5 27,765 14.9
Pacific Island 2.4 7,713 2.8 9,465 6.9 3.1 10,104 7.4
'New Zealander' n/a n/a 12.9 43,671 11.1 1.9 6,129 1.6
Middle East/Latin America/Africa n/a n/a 0.8 2,862 0.9 1.0 3,384 1.2
Others 0.6 2,073 <0.1 114 <0.1 <0.1 147 <0.1
Total giving their ethnicity 324,666 (individuals) 338,748 (individuals) 325,772 (individuals)

Approximately 62% of the South Island's Pacific Islander community reside in Christchurch and the surrounding Canterbury Province, equalling approximately 11,500 people.[64] People of Samoan descent comprise about half the Pacific Islander population.[64] There are also smaller communities of Cook Islanders, Fijians, Niueans, Tokelauans and Tongans residing in the city.[64]

The following table shows the ethnic profile of Christchurch's population, as recorded in the 2001 and 2006 New Zealand Census. The percentages add up to more than 100%, as some people counted themselves as belonging to more than one ethnic group. Figures for 2006 refer to just Christchurch City, not the whole urban area. The substantial percentage drop in the numbers of 'Europeans' was mainly caused by the increasing numbers of people from this group choosing to define themselves as 'New Zealanders'–even though this was not one of the groups listed on the census form.


Historical Population of Christchurch City
Census Pop. ±%
1981 281,721 [62] -
1986 288,948 [62] 2.6%
1991 296,061 [62] 2.5%
1996 316,611 [62] 6.9%
2001 323,956 [62] 2.3%
2006 348,435 [62] 7.6%
2013 341,469 [63] -2.0%

The Christchurch urban area at 381,800 is the third-largest in the country by population, after Auckland and Wellington. The urban area differs from the city by including Kaiapoi in the Waimakariri District and Prebbleton in the Selwyn District, while excluding most of the Banks Peninsula.

The area administered by the Christchurch City Council has a population of 367,800 (June 2015 estimate),[1] making it the second-largest in New Zealand, and the largest city in the South Island.

Boatsheds on the Avon River


Climate data for Christchurch International Airport (1943–2015, Sunshine 1949–2015, Temperature 1953–2015, Humidity 1960–2015)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 35.9
Average high °C (°F) 22.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 17.1
Average low °C (°F) 11.8
Record low °C (°F) 3.0
Average rainfall mm (inches) 43.5
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 5.9 5.4 6.3 6.7 7.8 8.0 8.2 7.3 6.1 6.9 6.6 7.1 82.3
Average relative humidity (%) (at 9am) 72.5 79.0 80.9 83.9 86.3 87.2 87.8 85.8 78.7 73.9 70.5 71.3 79.8
Mean monthly sunshine hours 224.4 190.5 177.4 155.6 133.3 117.7 124.8 149.0 166.6 201.3 215.3 214.3 2,070.2
Percent possible sunshine 48.3 49.1 46.2 47.5 44.5 43.6 43.3 46.4 47.2 49.0 49.1 45.0 46.6
Source #1: CliFlo[60]
Source #2: Time and Date (potential monthly daylight hours) [61]

[59] In 2008 council prohibited the use of woodburners more than 15 years old, while making funding available to upgrade domestic home heating systems.[58] in the city in fires To limit air pollution, the regional council banned the use of [57]

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