A timeline of Christchurch events in chronological order from pre-European times to 1989.
Go to a year between 1700 & 1989
This week in history
- May 20, 1861
- Gold discovered in Gabriels Gully, Otago. As with other discoveries, the ensuing gold rush depleted the city of its more adventurous young men.
- May 21, 1865
- First news telegram sent over the new line from Bluff to Christchurch.
- May 21, 1866
- City Council abandons the vital city drainage scheme because of its financial state. A huge shipment of pipes which had just arrived from England had to be sold off. This guaranteed Christchurchs reputation as New Zealands most polluted and unhealthy city for another 20 years. It is interesting to compare the transport cost of these pipes from Glasgow to Lyttelton - £882 - with the cost from Lyttelton by lighter and cart to Christchurch - £400!
- May 22-25, 1988
- Snow falls in Central City for first time in 10 years .
- May 22, 1868
- William Rolleston becomes the fourth (and last) Superintendent of Canterbury. The 4 superintendents have been remembered in the names of the citys "four avenues", previously called the Town Belts.
- May 22, 1989
- First significant rainfall in 22 months breaks drought in Canterbury.
- May 23, 1861
- Fire destroys brewery and shops in Cashel Street.
- May 23, 1960
- Tsunami (tidal wave) causes water level range of nearly 6 metres in 2 hours at Lyttelton.
- May 23, 1968
- Visit by Duke of Edinburgh.
- May 24, 1940
- Centennial music festival presents 10 days of music to large audiences. This was the New Zealand Centennial. For Christchurch Centennial see 1950.
- May 25, 1861
- Christchurch Press appears. The first editor was ex-Superintendent James FitzGerald, a bitter opponent of the proposed Lyttelton-Christchurch railway tunnel. He and supporters began the paper to air their views.
- May 25, 1903
- Statue of Queen Victoria unveiled in Market Square, and the area is renamed Victoria Square.
- May 25, 1966
- Steering committe set up to plan Ferrymead Historic Park.
- May 25, 1969
- First pair of one-way streets (Lichfield and St Asaph Streets) in operation. With traffic signals eventually controlled by a computer, this was the beginning of New Zealands first area traffic control scheme.
- May 26, 1859
- Public Library begins as the Mechanics Institute in Town Hall.
- May 26, 1906
- Statue of William Rolleston (outside the Canterbury Museum) unveiled.
- This resource includes images from our photographs collection - clicking on the image will take you to a larger version of that image.
- This resource links to various other local history resources on our website.