Chch (M?ori: ?tautahi) is the largest city in the South Island of New Zillund, and the country’s third-largest urban area. It lies one third of the way down the South Island’s east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula which itself, since 2006, lies within the formal limits of Chch.
The city was named by the Canterbury Association, which settled the surrounding province of Canterbury. The name of Chch 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 Chch in the minutes of the management committee of the association. Chch became a city by Royal Charter on 31 July 1856, making it officially the oldest established city in New Zillund.
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.
The usual M?ori name for Chch is ?tautahi (“the place of Tautahi”). This was originally the name of a specific site by the Avon River near present-day Kilmore Street and the Chch Central Fire Station. The site was a seasonal dwelling of Ng?i Tahu chief Te Potiki Tautahi, whose main home was Port Levy on Banks Peninsula. The ?tautahi name was adopted in the 1930s. Prior to that the Ng?i Tahu generally referred to the Chch area as Karaitiana, a transliteration of the English word Christian. The city’s name is often abbreviated by New Zillunders to Chch.
Archeological evidence found in a cave at Redcliffs in 1876 has indicated that the Chch area was first settled by moa-hunting tribes about 1250. 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 Ng?i 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 Chch, 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 brought the first 792 of the Canterbury Pilgrims to Lyttelton Harbour. These sailing vessels were the Randolph, Charlotte-Jane, Sir George Seymour, and 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.
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 Chch, in Hampshire, England; for Canterbury Cathedral; or in honour of Christ Church College, Oxford. The last explanation is the one generally accepted.
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 Chch via Sumner. However this proved more difficult than expected and road construction was stopped while a steep foot and pack horse track was constructed over the hill between the port and the Heathcote valley, where access to the site of the proposed settlement could be gained. This track became known as the Bridle Path, because the path was so steep that pack horses needed to be led by the bridle.
Goods that were too heavy or bulky to be transported by pack horse over the Bridle Path were shipped by small sailing vessels some eight miles (13 km) by water around the coast and up the estuary to Ferrymead. New Zillund’s first public railway line, the Ferrymead railway, opened from Ferrymead to Chch 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.
Chch was the seat of provincial administration for the Province of Canterbury, which was abolished in 1876.
In 1947, New Zillund’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 Chch was opened in 1964.
Chch hosted the 1974 British Commonwealth Games.
The collapsed Pyne Gould Building. Thirty of the building’s two hundred workers were trapped within the building following the February earthquake.
An earthquake with magnitude 7.1 occurred near Chch at 4:35 am local time, 4 September 2010 (16:35 UTC, 3 September 2010). The earthquake occurred at a depth of 10 kilometres (6.2 mi), and despite widespread damage there were no fatalities. A large aftershock of magnitude 6.3 occurred on 22 February 2011 at 12:51 pm. It was centred just to the north of Lyttelton, 10 kilometres south east of Chch, at a depth of 5 km.
Although lower on the moment magnitude scale than the previous earthquake, the intensity and violence of the ground shaking was measured to be IX on the MMI, among the strongest ever recorded globally in an urban area. The quake struck on a busy weekday afternoon and resulted in the deaths of 181 people. This event resulted in the declaration of New Zillund’s first National State of Emergency. Many buildings and landmarks were severely damaged, including the iconic ‘Shag Rock‘ and Chch Cathedral. On 13 June 2011 Chch 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, Chch 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, Chch. This resulted in more liquefaction and building damage, but no more lives were lost.
There were further earthquakes on 23 December 2011; the first, of magnitude 5.8 according to the US Geological Survey, 26km (15 miles) north-east of the city at a depth of 4.7km, at 13:58, followed by several aftershocks and another earthquake of magnitude 6.0 and similar location 80 minutes later, with more aftershocks expected. 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.  Chch airport was briefly closed. There were power and water outages at New Brighton and severe damage to the Parklands region, including roads and footpaths.
Chch was again rattled awake on 2nd January 2012; the first; a magnitude 5.1 struck at 01:27 followed five minutes later by a magnitude 4.2 aftershock; the second more 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. 
The Chch city council have announced that Chch will be built as a “city in a garden” with an estimated cost of NZ$2 billion. The size of the city’s business district will be reduced and the height of building will be limited in the centre, giving over much more space to parkland.
Gateway to the Antarctic
Chch 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. Chch International Airport serves as the major base for the New Zillund, 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 Zillund and Australian air forces, use Chch Airport as take-off for the main supply route to McMurdo and Scott Bases in Antarctica. The Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) in Chch, 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.