Christchurch (Māori: Ōtautahi) is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the country's second-largest urban area. It is one third the way down the South Island's east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula which itself, since 2006, lies within the formal limits of Christchurch.

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 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, a transliteration of the English name.

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 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.

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

Christchurch has one of the highest-quality water supplies in the world, rated one of the purest and cleanest water in the world. The water is sourced via more than 50 pumping stations from aquifers which conduct it from the foothills of the Southern Alps and provide natural filtering.

Central city
At the centre of the city is Cathedral Square, surrounding the 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) is considered the central business district of the city. The central city also has a number of residential areas, including Inner City East, Inner City West, Avon Loop, Moa & Victoria.

Cathedral Square is a popular destination and hosts attractions such as the speakers' corner made famous by the Wizard of New Zealand, Ian Brackenbury Channell, and evangelist Ray Comfort. The central city includes the pedestrianised Cashel Street as Christchurch's urban mall. At one end of the mall stands the Bridge Of Remembrance; at the other end the amphitheatre known as the Hack Circle.

The Cultural Precinct provides a backdrop to a vibrant scene of everchanging arts, cultural, and heritage attractions within an area of less than one square kilometre. The majority of the activities are free and a printable map is provided.

Inner suburbs
Mairehau; Shirley; Dallington; Richmond; Avonside; Linwood; Woolston; Opawa; Waltham; St Martins; Beckenham; Sydenham; Somerfield; Spreydon; Addington; Riccarton; Ilam; Burnside; Fendalton; Bryndwr; Strowan; Merivale; Papanui; St Albans.

Outer suburbs
Marshland; Burwood; Parklands; Waimairi Beach; Avondale; New Brighton; Bexley; Aranui; South Brighton; Southshore; Bromley; Mt Pleasant; Redcliffs; Sumner; Ferrymead; Heathcote Valley; Hillsborough; Murray Aynsley; Huntsbury; Cashmere; Westmorland; Hillmorton; Hoon Hay; Halswell; Oaklands; Wigram; Middleton; Sockburn; Hornby; Islington; Templeton; Yaldhurst; Russley; Avonhead; Harewood; Bishopdale; Casebrook; Redwood; Northwood; Belfast; Spencerville; Brooklands;

Satellite towns

* Lyttelton
* Tai Tapu
* Lincoln
* Prebbleton
* Rolleston
* West Melton
* Rangiora
* Kaiapoi

Geographically isolated
* Akaroa


Christchurch has a dry, temperate climate, with mean daily maximum air temperatures of 22.5 °C (72.5 °F) in January, 11.3 °C (52.3 °F) in July. 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 föhn 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.

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 or Mexico City, Christchurch smog has often exceeded World Health Organisation recommendations for air pollution. The city has funding available to upgrade domestic home heating systems, and in order to limit air pollution has banned the use of open fires as of 1 January 2006. As of 2008, woodburners more than 15 years old are prohibited.

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 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.

The 2006 Census also provides information about the multilinguality of the region. Accordingly, 283,986 people in Christchurch City spoke one language only, while 37,947 spoke two, and 7,881 could converse in three or more languages.

The agricultural industry has always been the economic core of Christchurch. The city has long had industry based on the surrounding farming country. 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 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 dairying strongholds such as Taranaki and the Waikato.

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.

In earlier years, Christchurch was one of the two heavy-engineering centres of New Zealand, 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 proteges include Chapman. In software, Gil Simpson founded LINC, which became Jade. Neither Angus nor Gil completed high school education.

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 when they set up Pulse Data through a management buyout of their division.

Nowadays, 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. Similarly, nearby Lincoln University has played an important role in Christchurch agribusiness.

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.


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

* Christchurch City Council, comprising the Mayor of Christchurch, and 13 councillors elected in seven wards.
* Community boards (6), each covering one ward, with five members each plus the two ward councillors. The Banks Peninsula Ward has 2 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.
* District Health Board (Canterbury), with five members for Christchurch.

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.


Secondary schools
Christchurch is well-known for several very traditional schools of the English public school type, such as Christ's College, Shirley Boys' High School, St Andrew's, St. Bede's College, Villa Maria College, St. Margaret's College and Rangi Ruru Girls' School, but also has several less conventional schools such as Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti and Hagley Community College. Christchurch is also the location of Burnside High School, well known for its specialist music programme, and the second largest school in New Zealand with 2,650 pupils. 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.

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

* University of Canterbury
* Lincoln University
* Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
* University of Otago Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences

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 car, however, remains the dominant form of transport. The central city has very flat terrain and the City Council are establishing a network of cycle lanes on roads.

There is a functioning tram service 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, ceased operating in 1954, but returned to the inner city (as a tourist attraction) in 1995. In addition to normal bus services, Christchurch also has a pioneering zero-fare hybrid bus service, the Shuttle, in the inner city.
Christchurch Brill Tram No 178 on the heritage tramway

The Main North Line railway travels northwards via Kaikoura to Picton and is served by the famous 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 to be 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. Commuter trains used to operate in Christchurch but were progressively cancelled in the 1960s and 1970s. The last such service, between Christchurch and Rangiora, ceased in 1976.

History of Canterbury, New Zealand

Archeological evidence found in a cave at Redcliffs in 1876 has indicated that the Christchurch area was first settled by moa-hunting tribes about 1250. Māori oral history relates that humans occupied the area around the year 1000. These first inhabitants were thought to have been followed by the Waitaha tribe, who are said to have migrated from the East coast of the North Island in the 16th century. Following tribal warfare, the Waitaha (made of three peoples) were dispossessed by the Ngati Mamoe tribe. They were in turn subjugated by the Ngāi Tahu tribe, who remained in control until the arrival of European settlers.

Following the purchase of land at Putaringamotu (modern Riccarton) by the Weller brothers whalers of Otago and Sydney a party of European settlers led by Herriott and McGillivray established themselves in what is now Christchurch, early in 1840. Their abandoned holdings were taken over by the Deans brothers in 1843 who stayed. The First Four Ships were chartered by the Canterbury Association and arrived on 16 December 1850, bringing the first 792 of the Canterbury Pilgrims to Lyttelton Harbour. These sailing vessels were the Randolph, Charlotte-Jane, Sir George Seymour, and Cressy. The Canterbury Pilgrims had aspirations of building a city around a cathedral and college, on the model of Christ Church in Oxford. The name 'Christ Church' was decided prior to the ships' arrival, at the Association's first meeting, on 27 March 1848.

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. 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.

The Anglican cathedral was completed in 1904 and has since been the focal point of the city

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.

Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on 31 July 1856, the first in New Zealand. Many of the city's Gothic 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.

The Lyttelton Road Tunnel between Lyttelton and Christchurch was opened in 1964.

Christchurch was also host to the 1974 British Commonwealth Games.

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 there is a statue of Scott, sculpted by his widow, Kathleen Scott, in the central city.

Within the city the Canterbury Museum preserves and exhibits many historic artifacts and stories of Antarctic exploration.

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 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, has 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.

Visitor attractions

* Garden and parks;
o Botanical Gardens
o Hagley Park
o Mona Vale
o Riccarton House and Bush
* Canterbury Museum
* Ferrymead Heritage Park
* Orana Wildlife Park
* Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
* Air Force Museum
* Southern Encounter Aquarium and Kiwi House
* International Antarctic Centre
* Christ Church (the Anglican cathedral), the centre of the Church of England settlement was built between 1864 and 1910.
* The Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, consecrated in 1905, is widely considered to be the finest renaissance-style building in Australasia.
* Christchurch Art Gallery (A new gallery opened 2003 to replace the 1930 Robert McDougall Art Gallery situated in the Botanic Gardens).
* The Christchurch Arts Centre, formerly Canterbury College and the site of 'Ernest Rutherford's Den'.
* The Provincial Council Chambers, 1857–1865.
* The Timeball Station in Lyttelton.
* The New Brighton pier.
* Heathcote (Christchurch) Gondola
* Punting on the river Avon
* Nga Hau E Wha Marae
* 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 Kiwi. The Mt Pleasant Trig offers 360° views from Lyttelton Harbour back over the hills to the southern alps and the city, and out over Pegasus Bay.
* Walkways including Victoria Park, the Bridle Path and Whitewash Head, a bird sanctuary.
* Mountain Biking on the Port Hills and Bottle Lake Forest. Christchurch Mountainbiking
* There is a large nesting colony of spotted shags immediately south of Christchurch.


Parks and nature
The large number of public parks and well-developed residential gardens with many trees has given Christchurch the name of The Garden City. 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.

While historically most cinemas were grouped around Cathedral Square, only the Regent complex remains there, which was rebuilt as 'Regent on Worcester' in 1996. Only one of the first generation of suburban cinemas, the Hollywood in Sumner, remains open. The largest multiplexes are the Hoyts 8 in the old Railway Station on Moorhouse Avenue and Reading Cinemas (also eight screens) in the Palms shopping centre in Shirley. The recently (2005) opened Hoyts in Riccarton had the largest screen in New Zealand – although this has recently (2007) been surpassed by Auckland, which now has the largest movie theatre screen in the world, incorporated into the new Sylvia Park shopping complex.

The Rialto Cinemas on Moorhouse avenue specialise in international films and art house productions. The Rialto also hosts the majority of the cities various film festivals and is home to the local film society.

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

In 2009 three-screen Metro Cinemas opened in Worcester Street.

There is an active film society in the city.

Christchurch has one full-time professional theatre, the Court Theatre, which is based in the Christchurch Arts Centre. There is also an active recreational theatre scene with community based theatre companies, such as the Riccarton Players, Elmwood Players, and Canterbury Children's Theatre, producing many quality shows.

The city is known for its many live acts, has a professional symphony orchestra, and is the base of professional opera company, Southern Opera.

There are usually buskers around the town square, and Christchurch also hosts the World Buskers Festival in January each year.

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.

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.

The Westpac 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.

The Christchurch Town Hall Auditorium (2500 seats, opened 1972) 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.

Christchurch also has a Casino, and there are also a wide range of live music venues – some short-lived, others with decades of history. Classical music concerts are held at the Music Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand.


* The Crusaders, formerly the 'Canterbury Crusaders' are a rugby union team based in Christchurch that compete in the Super 14 competition and are made up of players from the Buller, Canterbury, Mid-Canterbury, South Canterbury, Tasman, and West Coast provincial rugby unions.
* The Canterbury Rugby Football Union represents the city in New Zealand's annual professional domestic rugby union competition, the Air New Zealand Cup.
* The Canterbury Tactix play in the trans-Tasman ANZ Championship netball league. Prior to 2008, the Canterbury Flames played in the national netball league, competing for the National Bank Cup.
* Canterbury United play in the New Zealand Football Championship. They play their matches at English Park.
* The Christchurch Cougars play in the National Basketball League replacing the Canterbury Rams.
* The Canterbury Wizards are Christchurch's men's cricket team in New Zealand's State Championship while the Magicians play in the counterpart women's tournament.
* The Canterbury Red Devils play in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League (NZIHL) and play at Alpine Ice.
* The Christchurch Football Club was founded in 1863, believed to be the oldest club of any code in New Zealand.

* 1974 British Commonwealth Games
* 1982 Women's Cricket World Cup
* 1999 Netball World Championships
* 2000 Women's Cricket World Cup

* AMI Stadium (formerly Jade Stadium & Lancaster Park) is Christchurch's premier outdoor sporting ground, which plays host to rugby union in the winter months and cricket in the summer months. It is home to the Crusaders Super 14 and Canterbury Air New Zealand Cup rugby teams. It is also used by the New Zealand national cricket team and occasionally hosts a New Zealand Warriors rugby league match. AMI Stadium has a current capacity of 36,500 people.

* 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.

* Porritt Park in Avonside and Nunweek Park in Bishopdale are the main hockey venues of the city.

* Westpac Arena in Addington, Christchurch. Once hosted the World Netball Championship and continues to host international basketball and netball games.

* 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 Arena is home to the Canterbury Red Devils. It has hosted many national and international Ice Hockey tournamets, figure skating and speed skating events. The Aardwolfs Ice Hockey Club also play at the arena.

Sister cities

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

* Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
* Christchurch, Dorset, United Kingdom
* Lanzhou, Gansu, China
* Kurashiki, Okayama, Japan
* Seattle, Washington, United States of America
* Korea Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea
* Wuhan, Hubei, China


Web References:

The Canterbury Province

The Canterbury Province was a province of New Zealand from 1853 until the abolition of provincial government in 1876. On the east coast the province was bounded by the Hurunui River in the north and the Waitaki River in the south. The boundary on the west coast was largely undefined.

The capital of the Province of Canterbury was Christchurch and it was there the Provincial Council sat. Elections were held in 1853 for Superintendent and, later, for the 12 member council. These elections pre-dated any elected national assembly. The franchise was extended to men over the age of 21 who owned property in the province. The council first sat in temporary facilities but later the Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings were completed in 1859 to house the council.

In 1868 the West Coast was separated from the Province with the formation of the County of Westland on the West Coast with the boundary line defined as the crest of the Southern Alps. In 1873 the County formed its own Province, the short-lived Westland Province.

In the south the course of the Waitaki River was not known and disputes arose with the Province of Otago over pastoral leases in the inland high country.

In the 1860s South Canterbury made two bids to become separate province but this was rejected by the national government. Instead in 1867 the General Assembly created the Timaru and Gladstone Board of Works which received a proportion of the Canterbury provincial land revenues and was authorised to maintain and build the Timaru harbour and local roads and bridges.

The Canterbury Province was the first to open a public railway in New Zealand, at Ferrymead in 1863. Edward Dobson was the Provincial Engineer.

The Canterbury Provincial Railways were eventually absorbed into the New Zealand Railways Department in 1876.

Web References:

The South Island (Māori: Te Wai Pounamu)

The South Island (Māori: Te Wai Pounamu) is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand, the other being the more populous North Island.

The South Island is often called 'The Mainland'. Today this expression is used humorously, although still with pride by 'Mainlanders', since while it is a somewhat larger landmass than the North Island. only about a quarter of New Zealand's four million inhabitants live in the South Island. However, in the early stages of European (Pākehā) settlement of the country, the South Island was pre-eminent, with the majority of the European population and wealth focused there due to gold rushes. It was not until the early 20th century that the North Island population overtook the South, with 56% of the population living in the North in 1911.

Early inhabitants of the South Island were the Waitaha. They were largely absorbed via marriage and conquest by the Kāti Mamoe in the 1500s.

Ngāti Mamoe were in turn largely absorbed via marriage and conquest by the Ngāi Tahu who migrated south in the seventeenth century. While today there is no distinct Ngati Mamoe organisation, many Ngai Tahu have Ngati Mamoe links in their whakapapa and, especially in the far south of the island.

Around the same time a group of Māori migrated to Rekohu (the Chatham Islands), where, by adapting to the local climate and the availability of resources, they developed a culture known as Moriori — related to but distinct from Māori culture in mainland New Zealand. A notable feature of the Moriori culture, an emphasis on pacifism, proved disadvantageous when Māori warriors arrived in the 1830s aboard a chartered European ship.

The first Europeans known to reach the South Island were the crew of Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who arrived in his ships Heemskerck and Zeehaen. Tasman anchored in Golden Bay, at the northern end of the island, (he named it Murderers Bay) in December 1642 and sailed northward to Tonga following a clash with local Māori. Tasman sketched sections of the two main islands' west coasts. Tasman called them Staten Landt, after the States-General of the Netherlands, and that name appeared on his first maps of the country. Dutch cartographers changed the name to Nova Zeelandia in Latin, from Nieuw Zeeland, after the Dutch province of Zeeland. It was subsequently Anglicised as New Zealand by British naval captain James Cook of HM Bark Endeavour who visited the islands more than 100 years after Tasman during (1769–1770).

In the early 18th century, Ngāi Tahu a Māori tribe who originated on the east coast of the North Island began migrating to the northern part of the South Island. There they and Kāti Mamoe fought Ngāi Tara and Rangitāne in the Wairau Valley. Ngāti Māmoe then ceded the east coast regions north of the Clarence River to Ngāi Tahu. Ngāi Tahu continued to push south, conquering Kaikoura. By the 1730s, Ngāi Tahu had settled in Canterbury, including Banks Peninsula. From there they spread further south and into the West Coast.

In 1827-1828 Ngāti Toa under the leadership of Te Rauparaha successfully attacked Ngāi Tahu at Kaikoura. Ngāti Toa then visited Kaiapoi, ostensibly to trade. When they attacked their hosts, the well-prepared Ngāi Tahu killed all the leading Ngāti Toa chiefs except Te Rauparaha. Te Rauparaha returned to his Kapiti Island stronghold. In November 1830 Te Rauparaha persuaded Captain John Stewart of the brig Elizabeth to carry him and his warriors in secret to Akaroa, where by subterfuge they captured the leading Ngāi Tahu chief, Te Maiharanui, and his wife and daughter. After destroying Te Maiharanui's village they took their captives to Kapiti and killed them. John Stewart, though arrested and sent to trial in Sydney as an accomplice to murder, nevertheless escaped conviction.

In the summer of 1831–1832 Te Rauparaha attacked the Kaiapoi pā (fortified village). After a three-month siege, a fire in the pā allowed Ngāti Toa to overcome it. They then attacked Ngāi Tahu on Banks Peninsula and took the pā at Onawe. In 1832-33 Ngāi Tahu retaliated under the leadership of Tuhawaiki and others, attacking Ngāti Toa at Lake Grassmere. Ngāi Tahu prevailed, and killed many Ngāti Toa, although Te Rauparaha again escaped. Fighting continued for a year or so, with Ngāi Tahu maintaining the upper hand. Ngāti Toa never again made a major incursion into Ngāi Tahu territory.

By 1839 Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Toa established peace and Te Rauparaha released the Ngāi Tahu captives he held. Formal marriages between the leading families in the two tribes sealed the peace.

On 17 June 1843, Māori natives and the British settlers clashed at Wairau in what became known as the Wairau Affray. Also known as the Wairau Massacre in most older texts, it was the first serious clash of arms between the two parties after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and the only one to take place in the South Island. Four Māori died and three were wounded in the incident, while among the Europeans the toll was 22 dead and five wounded. Twelve of the Europeans were shot dead or clubbed to death after surrendering to Māori who were pursuing them.

In the 1870s and 1880s, several thousand Chinese men, mostly from the Guangdong province, migrated to New Zealand to work on the South Island goldfields. Although the first Chinese migrants had been invited by the Otago Provincial government they quickly became the target of hostility from white settlers and laws were enacted specifically to discourage them from coming to New Zealand.

Naming and usage
Although the island has been known as the South Island for many years, the New Zealand Geographic Board has found that, along with the North Island, it has no official name. The board intends to make South Island the island's official name, along with an alternative Māori name. Although several Māori names have been used, Maori Language Commissioner Erima Henare sees Te Wai Pounamu as the most likely choice. This Māori name for the South Island, meaning 'The Water(s) of Greenstone', possibly evolved from Te Wāhi Pounamu which means 'The Place Of Greenstone'. The island is also known as Te Waka a Māui which means 'Māui's Canoe'. In Māori legend, the South Island existed first, as the boat of Maui, while the North Island was the fish that he caught.

In the 19th century, some maps named the South Island as Middle Island or New Munster, and the name South Island or New Leinster was used for today's Stewart Island/Rakiura. In 1907 the Minister for Lands gave instructions to the Land and Survey Department that the name Middle Island was not to be used in future. 'South Island will be adhered to in all cases'.

The South Island takes the definite article when used as a noun whereas maps, headings or tables and adjectival expressions use South Island. This pattern can be found in a number of other names, such as the United Kingdom, the Vatican and the Internet.


* My mother lives in the South Island
* The North Island is smaller in area than the South Island
* I'm visiting the South Island
* The major South Island peaks are all in the Southern Alps

Note also that places are said to be in the South Island rather than on the South Island.

The South Island is guaranteed 16 of the 69 electorates in the New Zealand House of Representatives. In addition, 10 list MPs are based in the South Island, including the current Deputy Prime Minister.

Local government regions
There are seven local government regions covering the South Island and all its adjacent islands and territorial waters. Four are governed by an elected regional council, while three are governed by territorial authorities (the second tier of local government) which also perform the functions of a regional council and thus are known as unitary authorities. There is one exception to this, Nelson City, is governed by an individual Territorial authority to its region (Tasman Region). The Chatham Islands Council is often counted by many as a unitary authority, but it is officially recognised as a part of the region of Canterbury.

* Canterbury
* Marlborough
* Nelson
* Otago
* Southland
* Tasman
* West Coast

Territorial authorities
There are 25 territorial authorities within the South Island: 4 city councils, 20 district councils and the Chatham Islands Council. Four territorial authorities (Nelson City Council, Tasman and Marlborough District Councils and the Chatham Islands Council) also perform the functions of a regional council and thus are known as unitary authorities.

* Tasman District Council (unitary authority)
* Nelson City Council (unitary authority)
* Marlborough District Council (unitary authority)
* West Coast Regional Council
o Buller District Council
o Grey District Council
o Westland District Council
* Canterbury Regional Council (Environment Canterbury)
o Kaikoura District Council
o Hurunui District Council
o Selwyn District Council
o Waimakariri District Council
o Christchurch City Council
o Ashburton District Council
o Mackenzie District Council
o Timaru District Council
o Waitaki District Council (part)
o Waimate District Council
* Otago Regional Council
o Queenstown Lakes District Council
o Central Otago District Council
o Waitaki District Council (part)
o Dunedin City Council
o Clutha District Council
* Southland Regional Council (Environment Southland)
o Southland District Council
o Gore District Council
o Invercargill City Council
* Stewart Island/Rakiura
o Southland Regional Council (Environment Southland)
* Chatham Islands
o Chatham Islands Council (district)

Political parties

This is a list of Political parties, past and present, who have their headquarters in the South Island.
* Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party
* Imperial British Conservative Party
* National Democrats Party
* New Zealand Democratic Party
* New Zealand Progressive Party
* South Island Party
* South Island Party (2008)

Further information: Cities and Towns of the South Island and List of famous South Islanders

Compared to the more populated and multi-ethnic North Island, the South Island has a smaller, more homogeneous resident population of 1,017,300 (June 2008 estimate). At the 2001 Census, over 91 percent of people in the South Island said they belong to the European ethnic group, compared with 80.1 percent for all of New Zealand.

The South Island had an estimated sub-national GDP of US$27.8 billion (as of 2003).

The main industry groups within the South Island are manufacturing, agriculture, mining, construction, electricity, gas and water supply, education, health and community services.

Stock exchanges
Due to the Gold Rush of the 1870s, the South Island had regional stock exchanges in Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill – all of which were affiliated in the Stock Exchange Association of New Zealand. However, in 1974 these regional exchanges were amalgamated to form one national stock exchange, the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZSE). On 30 May, 2003, New Zealand Stock Exchange Limited formally changed its name to New Zealand Exchange Limited, trading as NZX.

Today, the Deloitte South Island Index is compiled quarterly from publicly available information provided by NZX, Unlisted and Bloomberg. It is a summary of the movements in market capitalisation of each South Island based listed company. A company is included in the Index where either its registered office and/or a substantial portion of its operations are focused on the South Island.

Trade unions

There are several South Island based trade union organisations. They are:
* Furniture, Manufacturing & Associated Workers Union
* New Zealand Building Trades Union
* New Zealand Meat & Related Trades Workers Union
* Southern Amalgamated Workers' Union


The main tourism destinations in the South Island are;

* Nelson and Tasman District
* Marlborough
* West Coast
* Kaikoura
* Hanmer Springs
* Christchurch and Canterbury
* Dunedin
* Southland Region and Stewart Island/Rakiura
* Queenstown, Wanaka and Central Otago
* Fiordland
* Milford Sound

Ski areas and resorts

Nelson Lakes
* Rainbow
* Mount Robert

* Fox Peak (club skifield)
* Hanmer Springs Ski Area (club skifield)
* Mount Lyford
* Mount Potts (heliskiing and snowcatting only)
* Mount Hutt
* Mount Dobson
* Ohau
* Porter Heights
* Round Hill
* Tasman Glacier (Heliski)
* Temple Basin (club skifield)
* Craigieburn Range
o Broken River (club skifield)
o Craigieburn Valley (club skifield)
o Mount Cheeseman (club skifield)
o Mount Olympus (club skifield)

* Coronet Peak
* Invincible Snowfields (helicopter access only)
* The Remarkables
* Around Wanaka
o Cardrona Alpine Resort
o Treble Cone
o Snow Park
o Snow Farm (cross-country skiing only)


Road transport
The South Island has a State Highway network of 4,921 km.

Rail transport
The South Island's railway network has two main lines, two secondary lines, and a few branch lines. The Main North Line from Picton to Christchurch and the Main South Line from Lyttelton to Invercargill via Dunedin together comprise the South Island Main Trunk Railway. The secondary Midland Line branches from the Main South Line in Rolleston and passes through the Southern Alps via the Otira Tunnel to the West Coast and its terminus in Greymouth. In Stillwater, it meets the other secondary route, the Stillwater - Westport Line, which now includes the Ngakawau Branch. A number of other secondary routes are now closed, including the Otago Central Railway, the isolated Nelson Section, and the interdependent Waimea Plains Railway and Kingston Branch. An expansive network of branch lines once existed, especially in Canterbury, Otago, and Southland, but these are now almost completely closed. The branch lines that remain in operation serve ports (Bluff Branch and Port Chalmers Branch), coal mines (Ohai Branch and Rapahoe Branch), and a dairying factory (Hokitika Branch). The first 64 km of the Otago Central Railway remain in operation for tourist trains run by the Taieri Gorge Railway (TGR). The most significant freight is coal from West Coast mines to the port of Lyttelton for export.

Passenger services were once extensive. Commuter trains operated multiple routes around Christchurch and Dunedin, plus a service between Invercargill and Bluff. Due to substantial losses, these were cancelled between the late 1960s and early 1980s. The final services to operate ran between Dunedin and Mosgiel, and they ceased in 1982. Regional passenger trains were once extensive, but are now limited to the TranzCoastal from Christchurch to Picton and the TranzAlpine from Christchurch to Greymouth. The Southerner between Christchurch and Invercargill, once the flagship of the network, was cancelled on 10 February 2002. Subsequently, the architecturally significant Dunedin Railway Station has been used solely by the TGR's tourist trains, the Taieri Gorge Limited along the Otago Central Railway and the Seasider to Palmerston. Rural passenger services on branch lines were provided by mixed trains and Vulcan/88 seater railcars but the mixeds had largely ceased to exist by the 1950s and the railcars were withdrawn in the mid-1970s.

The South Island saw the final use of steam locomotives in New Zealand. Locomotives belonging to classes long withdrawn elsewhere continued to operate on West Coast branches until the very late 1960s, when they were displaced by DJ class diesels. In comparison to most countries, where steam locomotives were last used on insubstantial rural and industrial operations, the very last services run by steam locomotives were the premier expresses between Christchurch and Invercargill: the South Island Limited until 1970 and the Friday and Sunday night services until 1971. This was due to the carriages being steam-heated. The final steam-hauled service in New Zealand, headed by a member of the JA class, ran on 26 October 1971.

Water transport
The South Island is separated from the North Island by Cook Strait, 24 km wide at its narrowest point, but requiring a 70 km ferry trip to cross.

Ports and harbours

* Container ports: Lyttelton (Christchurch), Port Chalmers (Dunedin)
* Other ports: Nelson, Picton, Westport, Greymouth, Timaru, Bluff.
* Harbours: Akaroa, Otago Harbour, Half Moon Bay (Stewart Island/Rakiura), Milford Sound.
* Freshwater: Queenstown and Kingston (Lake Wakatipu), Te Anau and Manapouri (Lake Manapouri)

Air transport -- Airport

Alexandra NZLX ALR Alexandra Aerodrome
Ashburton NZAS ASG Ashburton Aerodrome
Balclutha NZBA   Balclutha Aerodrome
Blenheim NZWB BHE Blenheim Airport (Woodbourne)
Chatham Islands NZCI CHT Chatham Islands / Tuuta Airport
Christchurch NZCH CHC Christchurch International Airport (long-distance)
Cromwell NZCS   Cromwell Racecourse Aerodrome
Dunedin NZDN DUD Dunedin International Airport (limited)
Gore NZGC   Gore Aerodrome
Greymouth NZGM GMN Greymouth Airport
Haast NZHT   Haast Aerodrome
Hokitika NZHK HKK Hokitika Airport
Invercargill NZNV IVC Invercargill Airport
Kaikoura NZKI KBZ Kaikoura Aerodrome
Lake Pukaki NZGT GTN Glentanner Aerodrome
Milford Sound NZMF MFN Milford Sound Airport
Mount Cook NZMC MON Mount Cook Aerodrome
Motueka NZMK MZP Motueka Aerodrome
Nelson NZNS NSN Nelson Airport
Oamaru NZOU OAM Oamaru Aerodrome
Picton NZPN PCN Picton Aerodrome
Queenstown NZQN ZQN Queenstown Airport (limited)
Rangiora NZFF   Forest Field Aerodrome
Stewart Island/Rakiura NZRC SZS Ryans Creek Aerodrome
Takaka NZTK KTF Takaka Aerodrome
Te Anau / Manapouri NZMO TEU Manapouri Aerodrome
Timaru NZTU TIU Richard Pearse Airport
Twizel NZUK TWZ Pukaki Aerodrome
Wanaka NZWF WKA Wanaka Airport
Westport NZWS WSZ Westport Airport
Wigram NZWG   Wigram Aerodrome

The South Island with an area of 151,215 km² (58,093 square miles) is the largest land mass of New Zealand, it contains about one quarter of the New Zealand population and is the world's 12th-largest island. It is divided along its length by the Southern Alps, the highest peak of which is Aoraki/Mount Cook at 3754 metres (12,316 ft). There are eighteen peaks of more than 3000 metres (9800 ft) in the South Island. The east side of the island is home to the Canterbury Plains while the West Coast is famous for its rough coastlines, very high proportion of native bush, and Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers.

The climate in the South Island is mostly temperate. The Mean temperature for the South Island is 8 °C (46 °F). January and February are the warmest months while July is the coldest.

Most areas have between 600 and 1600 mm of rainfall with the most rain along the West Coast and the least rain on the East Coast, predominantly on the Canterbury Plains. Christchurch is the driest city receiving about 640 mm (25 in) of rain per year.

There are three main factors that influence New Zealand's climate:
* Its latitude zone location where the prevailing winds flow westerly.
* Its oceanic environment.
* The mountains, especially the Southern Alps.


National Parks:
Abel Tasman National Park; Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park; Fiordland National Park; Kahurangi National Park; Mount Aspiring National Park; Nelson Lakes National Park; Paparoa National Park; Rakiura National Park; Westland National Park

Other Native Reserves and Parks
Hakatere Conservation Park

Geographic features
Arthur's Pass; Banks Peninsula; Catlins; Doubtful Sound; Farewell Spit; Haast Pass; Mackenzie Basin; Marlborough Sounds; Milford Sound; Southern Alps; Slope Point; Spenser Mountains

Glaciers: Fox Glacier; Franz Josef Glacier

Rivers: Hokitika River


The South Island has several tertiary level institutions:
Aoraki Polytechnic; Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology; Lincoln University; Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology; Otago Polytechnic; Southern Institute of Technology; Tai Poutini Polytechnic; Telford Rural Polytechnic; University of Canterbury; University of Otago

Healthcare in the South Island is provided by six District Health Boards (DHBs). Organized around geographical areas, of varying population sizes, they are not coterminous with the Local Government Regions: Canterbury DHB; Nelson Marlborough DHB; Otago DHB; South Canterbury DHB; Southland DHB; West Coast DHB


Ashburton Guardian; The Marlborough Express; The Nelson Mail; Otago Daily Times; The Press; Southland Times; The Timaru Herald

45 South; Canterbury Television; Channel 9; CUE (Southland TV)


Nelson stations

Current stations
Fresh FM; Impact 100; Mainland FM; Radio Robot

Previous stations
Cadbury Moro FM; Fifeshire FM - Rebranded as More FM; Radio Nelson - Rebranded as Classic Hits 89.8 & 90.4FM; The Planet 97FM - Replaced with ZM

West Coast stations

Current Stations
Coast FM - (no connection to Coast Radio Network. ; Z102 102.5FM

Previous stations
Radio Scenicland and later Scenicland FM - Rebranded as Classic Hits Scenicland FM.

Canterbury stations

Current stations
91ZM - Operates local daytime show all other shows from the ZM network. Originally local until 2001. ; Country 88FM; Newstalk ZB - Local breakfast and morning show all other shows from Newstalk ZB network. ; Plains 96.9FM; Port FM (Timaru) ; Pulzar FM; Radio Ferrymead; RDU-FM

Previous stations
3ZB - Rebranded as Newstalk ZB; 3ZE (Ashburton) - Rebranded as Classic Hits 92.5 ZEFM; Channel Z - Operated local Channel Z station until 2001 when station was replaced with Auckland based network product. ; Fox FM (Ashburton) - Rebranded as Port FM; 99 Life FM - Original Life FM station; B98 FM - Rebranded as Classic Hits B98 and later Classic Hits 97.7; Lite FM - Rebranded as The Breeze; Radio Avon and later C93FM; Radio Caroline (Timaru) - Rebranded as Classic Hits 99FM; Blush 96.1 - Christchurch NZBS 'Live Sexy'

Dunedin and East Otago stations

Current stations:
Big River Radio (Balclutha); Country Radio 88.7; Ear107; GoldRush1440 (Lawrence) ; Hills AM; Radio Clutha (Balclutha) ; Radio Dunedin; Radio One; RushFM (Lawrence)

Previous stations
4XO - Rebranded as More FM; 4ZB and later ZBFM - Rebranded as Classic Hits 89FM; 93Rox; Radio Waitaki (Oamaru) - Rebranded as Classic Hits Radio Waitaki; Whitestone FM (Oamaru) - Rebranded as Port FM

Queenstown and Central Otago stations

Current Stations
96.7 Blue Skies FM (Alexandra) ; Burn 729AM (Ranfurly) ; The Studio FM (Queenstown) ; Radio Wanaka (Wanaka)

Previous stations:
Radio Central (Alexandra) - Rebranded as More FM; Resort Radio (Queenstown) - Rebranded as More FM; Q92FM (Queenstown) - Rebranded as Q92 The Breeze

Southland Radio stations

Current stations:
Country Radio 88.4; Hokonui Gold; Radio Southland 96.4

Previous stations
4ZA - Rebranded as Classic Hits 98.8 ZAFM; Foveaux FM - Rebranded as More FM; eFM - Southern Institute of Technology student radio station that operated in 2001.

A number of national or international sporting teams and events are based in the South Island, including:

    * Basketball: Canterbury Rams, Christchurch Sirens, Nelson Giants and the Otago Nuggets.
* Ice hockey: Canterbury Red Devils, Dunedin Thunder, Southern Stampede.
* Netball: Canterbury Tactix and the Southern Steel.
* Soccer: Canterbury United, Otago United.
* Rugby league: Canterbury Bulls
* Rugby union: Crusaders, Highlanders, Tasman Makos, Southland Stags, West Coast, Buller, South Canterbury, North Otago

International events hosted in the South Island include the National Basketball League, the ANZ Championship netball competition and the Super 14 rugby union competition.

The arts

Art galleries:
Centre of Contemporary Art; Christchurch Arts Centre; Dunedin Public Art Gallery

Canterbury Museum; Ferrymead Heritage Park; Nelson Provincial Museum; Otago Museum; Otago Settlers Museum; Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum; Southland museum and art gallery; World of Wearable Art

Film location
Several movies have been filmed (in large part) in the South Island, including the Lord of the Rings and 2005's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Web References:


 Christchurch New Zealand Map

This webpage was updated 27th January 2020