The first inhabitants of what is now known as Christchurch, New Zealand were moa-hunting tribes whom eventually hunted these flightless birds to extinction. These inhabitants were followed by the Waitaha tribe. Control of the Waitaha tribe and the Ngati Mamoe tribe was taken by the Ngai Tahu tribe until the settling of the European people. The first European settlers landed in Canterbury in 1815. By 1850 Europeans were operating whaling ships out of the Lyttelton Harbor, at about the same time a group of European settlers founded the city of Christchurch after arriving in Lyttelton Harbor. Christchurch became a city on July 31, 1856 by Royal Charter. Christchurch is officially the oldest established city in New Zealand.
The geology of the Canterbury region of New Zealand, where the city of Christchurch is located, is very unique. The Southern Alps are seen clearly from anywhere in Christchurch. These mountains are composed of greywacke and were formed 230 to 170 million years ago. Present day mountains in this area began forming 26 million years ago and continue today. The Banks Peninsula is an important part of the geology of the Canterbury region. Over millions of years, two volcanoes have linked due to eruptions of basalt. In recent geological history, alluvial fans have linked this volcano to the Southern Island. Also, due to movement of faults in the Canterbury region, there has been a history of earthquakes. It is suspected that the movement of these faults will cause earthquake damage in the future.
In 2001, Christchurch had a population of 334,107 people. This is the most populated district of the Canterbury region. Although the region of Canterbury has the most people of European descent of the country, most of the Maori people of this area are centered on the city of Christchurch. The city of Christchurch is known as Garden city for all the amazing gardens throughout this area. Some of the many gardens include Mona Vale, Botanic Gardens and the Ilam Homestead. The people of Christchurch enjoy the mountains, beaches, lakes and parks that are all within close vicinity.
White Island is located in the Taupo Volcanic Zone in the North Island of New Zealand. It is the largest volcanic structure in country with 70 percent of the volcano under the sea. The steam from the eruptions of this volcano can be seen 10km into the sky on a clear day. The upper slopes of this island were previously mined for sulfur in the early 1900's. In 1914 mining stopped after the collapse of a crater wall that killed 12 miners. The sulfur was used for fertilizers, the export of sulfur ore and the manufacturing of sulfuric acid. The Maori name for the island translates to "The Dramatic Volcano" and "that which can be made visible." In 1952, White Island became a private scenic reserve and until 1995 the public had free access to the island. The island is now under permit controlled access.
White Island has no vegetation and instead as you travel around the island you see that the ground is covered by sulfur crystals. In the waters surrounding the island there is marine life such as dolphins, and many bird species. There are large colonies of Gannets that nest on the island and you can see them clearly as you approach the island.