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Canterbury Anniversary Day

Upcoming Dates of Canterbury Anniversary Day

2022: Friday 11th November

2023: Friday 17th November

2024: Friday 15th November

man in black singlet chopping wood at competition

The Province of Canterbury

Before the West Coast province of Westland was created in 1867, Canterbury Province in New Zealand’s South Island encompassed the entire central third of the island.

The region of Canterbury now runs south from Kaikoura on the east coast down the coast to Waitaki Bridge, just south of Waimate.

Then inland to include Twizel and takes in Aoraki Mt Cook and up the Southern Alps, through Lewis Pass. The largest city in Canterbury is Christchurch, on the east coast.

The Division of Canterbury

When it comes to Anniversary Days, the Canterbury region is uniquely divided.

Canterbury Anniversary Day is only celebrated in Northern and Central Canterbury. This area incorporates the town of Ashburton to the south and west to the Alps from there.

Southern Canterbury, south of the Rangitata River, has its own separate South Canterbury Anniversary Day.

The Anniversary Date

The Canterbury Anniversary Day is always on a Friday and is celebrated on the second Friday – following the first Tuesday – of November.

The original date was observed on December 16th as this was the date in 1950 when the first ships from England landed at Lyttleton Harbour, Banks Peninsula, near Christchurch.

The day was shifted to November to coincide with the Christchurch A & P Show Day. The A & P Show, as it is known locally, is the Agricultural and Pastoral Show which celebrates everything rural.

The A&P Show

Most provinces in New Zealand have an annual A & P Show, but the Christchurch show is certainly the largest and the oldest.

The show here has taken place since 1859, stretching over three days. The Friday is known as ‘People’s Day’ or ‘Show Day’.

The show connects the rural community and provides a distinctive fusion of farming and entertainment.

Exhibits include the latest innovations and competitors showing their cattle, alpacas, goats, dog trials, horse riding events, vintage machinery, woodchopping, and so much more.

Sideshow events also ensure this can be a fun three days for all the family. South of Christchurch, in the town of Ashburton, there are fairs, street stalls and concerts.

Once the Anniversary Day was moved to the new date in November, it allowed banks and businesses to close so everyone could attend the show.

More than a Day at the Races

The decision to change the dates had to ensure there was no clash with Australia’s Melbourne Cup Day, which is the first Tuesday in November.

Even though it is in Australia, it is still a notable day on New Zealand’s Horse Racing Calendar. The New Zealand Cup is run during this Anniversary week in November at Christchurch’s Riccarton Park.

Of course, when it comes to horse racing, this is always followed by fashion and shopping. It is a great week to be in Christchurch for these activities and festivities all whilst enjoying the spring weather.