MHF Town
Ashburton District Council

Ashburton, know as New Zealand’s Granary, is the bustling hub of the Mid Canterbury district, combining city facilities and vibrancy with rural town friendliness.

You’ll appreciate the high quality shopping precincts, eclectic cafes and restaurants, craft shops, nationally recognised art gallery and museum found here.  People who stop and stay are surprised at what they find. 

The man made Lake Hood on the outskirts of Ashburton, is a paradise for water enthusiasts, with a wide range of activites including, swimming, yachting, boating and waterskiing. Enjoy a coffee or dining at the lakefront restaurant and watch the world go by.

Gardeners will love a stroll through Trotts Gardens, a renowned garden which has international acclaim or the Ashburton Domain with expansive lawns, trees, and gardens. A favourite picnic spot.

Ashburton boasts major events, including the annual Wheels Week, an iconic event based on everything with wheels, Multi Cultural Bite on Waitangi Day, an annual award winning event that is a celebration of cultural diversity, through dance and food, where people from different backgrounds prepare and share food and culture from their home country. Boulevard Day where the CBD of Ashburton becomes a large market, a fun day, with stall holders from: local retailers, and small unique businesses from all around New Zealand and many A&P Shows, promoting excellence in agriculture and goodwill between town and country.

Mid Canterbury is also known as the Salmon capital of the NZ and a huge salmon statue, in Rakaia, celebrates this. Many international fishermen use Ashburton as their base during the summer months (October to May).

How Ashburton came about:

The land on which the town of Ashburton stands was obtained from the Canterbury Association which held the land under the Wakefield Scheme. The river and the town were named after the Hon. William Baring (Lord Ashburton) a prominent member of the first New Zealand Land Association founded by Wakefield in 1837. At this time Ashburton District was tussock-covered and swept periodically by gales from the north-west. There were no trees except a few cabbage trees and matagouri. The wide snow-fed braided rivers meant fords constantly changed and crossings could be difficult.

William Turton opened an accommodation house on the north bank of the Ashburton River in 1858. It was the first building in what would become Ashburton. The town was surveyed in 1863 by Robert Park and boundaries laid out from the Rakaia to the Rangitata and from the Southern Alps to the sea.

John Grigg settled at Longbeach and began draining the swampy land, turning the estate into a model farm that attracted world-wide attention. Grigg later founded the Canterbury Frozen Meat Company, was chairman of the Farmers Insurance Company, a member of the Ashburton County Council and a Member of Parliament. In 1876 the Agricultural and Pastoral Association formed with John Grigg as first president.

Business grew, a woollen mill opened in 1880, a freezing works established at Fairton in 1899 and gas lighting came to Ashburton streets. The town’s high pressure water supply was established in 1911 and a water tower built.

Other Points of interest in Ashburton:

  • Local Farmer’s market 
  • Enjoy road and mountain bike cycling trails
  • Take in the district’s natural beauty with a nature walk or hike
  • Visit the Ashburton Aviation Museum
  • Sample a drop of local vintage
  • Book in for live theatre or a musical

For more information about Ashburton, accommodation, activities and events please visit

Ashburton District Council, 5 Baring Square West, Ashburton Phone: 03-307 7700