The patchwork plains of Selwyn spread from the foothills of the Southern Alps out to the coast, between the Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers.
Most of the district’s population live on the plains. Rolleston is now the largest town in Selwyn. Lincoln draws people to the area, with its university focused on agriculture. Prebbleton and Darfield are towns that have seen growth in the years since the 2010-2011 Christchurch Earthquakes.
From the long, straight roads, fields stretch as far as the eye can see. Early Māori found the fertile soils good for growing kumara. Now, farms in the region mostly focus on dairy, beef and sheep farming, as well as growing crops like grains.
Selwyn has been an important rail link for Christchurch since 1879. When the Otira Tunnel was built in 1923, it was the second longest tunnel in the world and provided a direct rail connection for the two coasts via the Midland Line. The TranzAlpine passenger service following this route is considered one of the world’s great train journeys.
The Little River Rail Trail links visitors to the past, following a branch line from Hornby, that was closed in 1967. It is a walking and cycling track alongside Lake Ellesmere (Te Waihora) through a native wetland reserve.
Explore the rural landscape of Selwyn.