1908 Holiday Trip to Christchurch, City of the Plains

Cathedral Square, looking south west
Looking south west across Cathedral Square from the eastern side of Canterbury Cathedral showing (from left to right) the United Services Hotel, the Strand Theatre, the New Zealand Insurance Company Building, the Chief Post Office (with clock tower) and the Regent Theatre Building, partly obscured by the tram barns in the middle of the Square. Source: Frederick Radcliffe, circa 1910-1919. Image: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 35-R344

Christchurch Described

Christchurch, New Zealand, is called the “City of the Plains” for  its streets are as level as a billiard table, giving the visitor an impression that each street resembles the other to such an extent that it is one of the easiest cities to get lost in, without one has the “bump of location ” largely developed. I have already lost my bearings on more than one occasion but as Cathedral Square, in about the centre of town, is the place where all the numerous tram lines radiate from, the visitor is enabled, by keeping the Square as the lode star in all his journeyings, to possess a pretty correct knowledge of his whereabouts.

The Tramways

One of the most progressive institutions of Christchurch is its tramway system, electricity being the motive power on almost the whole of the lines, only about two of the lines not having as yet been electrified. The system under which the trams are run is an excellent one, Cathedral Square being really the terminus, or, rather, the starting point for them all. Cars run to New Brighton, Linwood, Wainoni Park, Opawa, Port Hills, Addington, the railway station, Riccarton, Papanui, Sumner, St. Albans, and other places at regular intervals throughout the day. On all the lines there are penny sections, which has induced people to travel who would never think of doing so were three-penny fares only recognised. On some of the lines the full fare through is as much as sixpence, but, then, it must be remembered that the distance traversed is a good long one. There are special stopping places for tbe cars, and, unlike our Melbourne trams, passengers cannot alight just where they please; they can only do so at the regular stopping places. The cars are closed at both ends, similar to our Melbourne cars, while the centre seats, running cross ways similar to our railway carriages, are open, and take the place of our dummies.

Fruit Very Expensive

Melbourne visitors notice particularly the difference in the price of fruit to what prevails in Melbourne, and I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw cherries marked at 1/6 per lb. in the shop windows, while on Christmas Eve tomatoes were priced at 1/6 per lb. Since then the price has fallen, but only yesterday I was commissioned to purchase tomatoes provided I could obtain them at 1/- p r lb. Only the other day I saw some splendid bananas at 12 a shilling, but the high price did not induce me to become a purchaser.

Artesian Well, Christchurch
Source: L. Hinge, Auckland Weekly News 1 February 1906 p10. Image: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19060201-10-4

Artesian Water Supply

A great matter of importance to Christchurch people is its splendid artesian water supply. Almost every house has its windmill, which pumps up water by the gallon as long as the householder chooses. The majority of householders are very lavish in the use of water; it costs them nothing, and once a windmill is erected it requires hardly any attendance. The usual plan is to have erected on a staging some 15 or 16 feet high a 400 gallon tank, which a windmill soon pumps full of water, when it is by a simple arrangement thrown out of gear until the water in the tank is exhausted, when the pumping process is again commenced. This has been a very dry season, and the gardens and lawns of the private houses would look’ much better if house holders watered their gardens more than they do, instead of letting water run to waste.

New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day in Christchurch is quite a gala day, for it is made the occasion of the annual regatta at its seaport town of Lyttelton, which is reached by rail, the Moorehouse (sic) tunnel through the Port Hills having to be traversed by the train on its way to the port.  I do not know the length of the tunnel, but the train takes just four minutes to, get through.  Lyttelton harbour is well suited for regatta purposes, and the day being typical of Australian summer the enormous crowd of sightseers and the splendid display of bunting which was flying from the masts and rigging of the ships in harbour, including some men-of-war, made the scene one of particular brilliance.

Nimrod departs Lyttelton, 1908
The crowd gathered on Lyttelton Wharf to witness the departure of the Nimrod, January 1, 1908. Image: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19080109-8-2

A Historical Event

Special interest was lent to the occasion by the fact that the “Nimrod” left Lyttelton for Antarctica during the afternoon, which was marked with immense enthusiasm by the large concourse of people present.

A Progressive City

After having had a good look through Christchurch, I have come to the conclusion that really no poverty exists in the city.  All the people seem to live in very comfortable double-fronted houses, situated in a quarter-acre of ground, with a nice grass plot in front, as well as a  flower garden, while fruit trees, such as apples, pears, gooseberries, currants and raspberries, flourish splendidly. Christchurch is a very progressive city, very English in its style, and makes a fine place for a holiday.

Holiday Trip to New Zealand.

Source: Holiday Trip to Now Zealand. (1908, January 18). Malvern Standard (Vic. : 1906 – 1931), p. 3. Supplied by National Library of Australia


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