Christchurch City is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand with a population over 350,000, and the third largest city in New Zealand after Auckland and Wellington. It is on the edge of the Canterbury plains and has direct flights to its efficient international airport.

Christchurch city was established in 1850 by Anglican English settlers and this heritage shows in its fine older buildings, especially the neo-gothic buildings in the cultural precinct along Worcester Boulevard and Rolleston Ave. The River Avon meanders through the central city and disrupts the otherwise regular rectangular layout of the city streets.

Christchurch is known as the Garden City, a well-deserved name. Looking from a few floors up, one is struck by the number of trees that grow like a forest throughout the suburbs.

The central business district is undergoing a major rebuild after earthquakes. All areas are now accessible and the city remains a major gateway to the rest of the South Island.

History of Christchurch City

Christchurch began as a Saxon village. Its original name was Tweoxneam, which means between 2 rivers. The Saxon settlement stood on a triangular piece of land between the rivers.

According to legend St Catherines Hill was chosen for the site of a church. Each evening the builders would finish work but when they came back the next morning the building work was undone and the materials were moved somewhere else. One day a beam was cut too short and a stranger miraculously lengthened it. The builders decided the stranger must have been Jesus Christ so they moved the site of the church and changed the name of the town to Christchurch.

In the early 16th century a writer said that Christchurch was ‘situated in a desolate place in very barren country, out and far from all highways, in an angle or a corner (between 2 rivers), having no woods or commodious country about it, no good town near but only the said poor town of Christchurch which is a very poor town and slenderly inhabited’.

By 1841 the population of Christchurch had reached 1,922. By 1871 it was 3,064. In 1901 the population of Christchurch stood at 4,204. So it was still very small. In 1902 the council began laying sewers in the town. In 1903 an electricity generating station opened but it was many years before the electric light completely replaced gaslight.

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