NZIHL History

NZIHL February 18, 2018  3652

It is said that the game of ice hockey originated on the frozen lakes of Canada in 1877.

From there the game has spread around the world and has become extremely popular in North America and many European countries such as Sweden, Russia and the Czech Republic. Professional leagues are now played throughout these countries, with North Americas NHL being the pinnacle. The sport has also been part of the Winter Olympics since 1920.

Opawa hockey

Erewhon Cup Tournament 1948 Albury, South Island, New Zealand.

Thank you to the Glass family for the use of the photo above. The house in the background is the Opawa homestead at Albury in South Canterbury. It was in a caravan in front of the homestead where the inaugural meeting of the New Zealand Ice Skating Association was held during the first Erewhon Cup Tournament in 1937.

Ice Hockey in New Zealand

The first recorded game of ice hockey in New Zealand was in 1937 when sheep farmers in the South Island played on the frozen lakes in winter. It has been played more or less continuously since then. Today there are over 1600 registered players in New Zealand, in age group competitions from Under 13 to Senior Men’s and Women’s teams.

About the NZIHL

The NZIHL teams are predominantly made up of New Zealand players, but each team is able to import players from outside of New Zealand although only 5 may be dressed any one game.

The league has been lucky enough to secure players from Canada, USA, Italy, France, Sweden, Russia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany and Finland. Being from the Southern Hemisphere, our league runs from May to September in our winter. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere and looking to play in your offseason, please contact us as foreign players are always welcome.

View more information about the league’s history on Elite Prospects: and on our website here: