YMCA Christchurch was founded in Lyttelton in 1862, and began work that included education programmes, athletics and bible studies.
In 1878 the 83 members raised enough money to buy land on the corner of Hereford and Cambridge Terrace.
In 1883 the premise in the Square burnt down and all records and equipment were lost leaving a gap in the records from 1875 to 1882.
In 1884 a new building was started on the Cambridge Terrace site. This building would hold a gym and meeting room.
In 1908 in an effort to finish funding the main building on the Cambridge Terrace site an agreement was made for with the Boys Gordon Hall Trust. The boys department of the YMCA would be known as the Boys Gordon Hall and representatives of the Boys Gordon Hall Trust would be on the Board of Directors of the YMCA.
The second building (which became the main building) was completed on the Cambridge Terrace site. This building housed the hostel and youth department (Boys Gordon Hall)
1914 to 1918 – First World War. The YMCA provided recreation, catering and entertainment for the armed forces. Secretaries set up recreation huts in military installations and soldiers could find accommodation and meals at the YMCA. This occurred not only within New Zealand, but also overseas in all the main areas of conflict.
The 1920s the YMCA pioneered vocational guidance for young men who were finding it hard to find work.
In 1929 the Wainui camp was set up for boys camps during the Christmas break. Other programmes the run at that time included: working with the territorials, religious studies, educational classes, physical programming, clubs and special events. These were all for boys or men.
1939-1945 – Second World War. The YMCA once again provided support for the armed forces both in New Zealand and overseas.
In 1948 the first Carols by Candlelight event was held. It has been held ever since with only a few exceptions.
In 1961 the Bryndwr site was established. This was used by the YMCA until the development of the current Bishopdale site.
In 1965 the Christchurch College site (Corner Hereford Street and Rolleston Avenue) was purchased, which included an accommodation facility (Williams House),that had been used by Christchurch Hospital for nurses accommodation as well as more latterly for boys attending Christ’s College. More land at Wainui was also purchased in this year.
Williams House – was used by the YMCA to provide long-term cheap accommodation for single men. This continued until 2012.
In 1966 the adjacent property to the Wainui camp was purchased, total land area was now 24 acres.
In 1967 the Cambridge Terrace site was sold to the Government due to compulsory acquisition, and the first new building was completed on the Hereford Street site, this building still stands and has been used since for youth programmes, basketball, health & fitness, gymnastics, climbing and most recently performing arts.
By the early 1980s participation at the YMCA had become 50% men and women.
In 1990 a new accommodation building was opened and a climbing wall was built in the main gym area (which had previously been facilities for gymnastics and basketball).
In 1996 Christchurch YMCA launched a new image with assistance of Sir Richard Hadlee.
In 1997 the YMCA was the first gym in Christchurch to offer spin.
In 2007 the new Bishopdale building was officially opened – this building is known as the Bishopdale Youth and Recreation Centre and provides basketball, gymnastics, health & fitness, and a preschool.
In 2008 the first female CEO was appointed.
In 2012 the Christchurch Earthquakes closed Williams House (the hostel for single men at Hereford Street) and in 2013 this building was demolished due to concerns about safety.
In 2014 the YMCA purchased a climbing operation in Sydenham, and closed the climbing wall at Hereford Street.
In 2015/16 the YMCA delivered a series of Street Art exhibitions to generate activity in the central city, and to provide opportunities for young people to be part of the creative ‘new’ Christchurch being rebuilt post quake.
In 2017 the YMCA created a performing arts space at Hereford Street which now delivers a range of youth focused Arts programmes from a black box theatre space.
The YMCA was gifted the Outdoor Education Centre at Arthur’s Pass.
Plans are in place to open YMCA Marlborough in 2020, a new hostel provision in Blenheim.