Ashburton, New Zealand

From Academic Kids

Ashburton is a town in the Canterbury region on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. The third largest centre in Canterbury (after Christchurch and Timaru), it is the main centre of Mid-Canterbury. The Māori name for the town/area is Hakatere.

Urban Area Population 16350 (2004 est.)
Name Ashburton District Council
Population 26,700 (2004 est.)

Pacific Ocean to the
Southern Alps, and the
Rangitata River to the
Rakaia River, including
the towns of Methven,
Mount Somers, and Rakaia

Name Canterbury

Ashburton is located on State Highway 1 80km south of Christchurch. The South Island Main Trunk Railway also runs through the centre of town, but passenger services ceased on 10 February 2002. The town is the centre of a rich agricultural and pastoral farming district, part of the Canterbury Plains. It has one large relatively separate suburb, Tinwald, which is south of the main town and Ashburton River.

Prominent residents have included the town's former Member of Parliament and Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jenny Shipley, and New Zealand television and radio personality Simon Barnett.

A common nickname for Ashburton is 'Ashvegas', an ironic allusion to Las Vegas. This may be due to the perceived respectability, and conservatism of the residents, and the notable lack of nightlife within the town, coupled with it being the bright lights in the middle of the desert (Las Vegas) or plains (Ashburton).


Much of Ashburton's industry is oriented towards servicing the surrounding farmland. Additionally, it is currently the site of New Zealand's only bus manufacturer, Designline, and also produces many of the world's spinning wheels.


Opportunities within the town itself are limited to the kind of activities that could be expected for a town of its size (e.g., movie theatre, swimming pool). There is a walking track along the northern side of the river from SH1 coastwards, for some distance.

Slightly further afield, the number of opportunities rises dramatically. The beaches adjacent to Ashburton are steep and shingly with a strong undertow, making them unswimmable. In part to rectify the limitations imposed by the lack of recreational waterways, Lake Hood was constructed just south-east of Tinwald. It provides rowing, swimming, and water-skiing opportunities. The Ashburton, Rakaia, and Rangitata Rivers offer good fishing. Upper reaches of the Rangitata are frequently kayaked and rafted, reaching Grades 3-4. The Rakaia is known for jet-boating. The Ashburton Lakes (Lake Heron, Lake Camp, Lake Clearwater, and a number of smaller lakes) are around an hour and a half inland, and also offer water sport and fishing opportunities, plus ice-skating in winter.

Mount Hutt is a prominent South Island Skifield, located an hour inland, just past Methven.

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