Waimakariri New Zealand
General Information

The Waimakariri District lies to the north of the Waimakariri River on the eastern coast of the South Island, New Zealand and is only a 20 minutes drive from Christchurch. Rangiora is the main town and the centre of a prosperous agricultural, horticultural and fruit-growing area of the Waimakariri District.

Attractions and Activities

With its high country tussocks, dramatic gorges, wide braided rivers and rugged beaches, Waimakariri is a virtual and undiscovered playground. This is a place to meander and relax in the New Zealand landscape or experience the thrills and excitement of an adventure wonderland. Experience the thrill of a jet boat ride through the spectacular Waimakariri Gorge, or try your hand at catching salmon and brown trout, or tramp the native beech forests, bush and foothills of the Southern Alps or just take a relaxing stroll along the beach and enjoy the waves of the Pacific Ocean.


The small towns of the Waimakariri District offer a wide range of specialist stores and craft shops as well as your usual chain stores and supermarkets.

Maori Translation

The Maori translation of Waimakariri is ‘cold water’.


The district occupies about 225,000 hectares from the beaches of Pegasus Bay in the east to the mountainous Puketeraki Ranges in the west. It is bounded by the Hurunui District to the north.


Before the arrival of the European settlers to the Waimakariri area, the Māori were in occupation for almost a thousand years. With the wars and integration of marriage between Māori iwi’s from the North Island and South Island before the settlement of the Europeans, the Ngai (Kai) Tahu tribe became the dominant iwi of the South Island and acknowledge that the Waitaha people are the original South Island iwi.

During the 1840s when the European Government land purchase programme was in effect, the Ngai (Kai) Tahu tribe strongly protested to the inclusion of their lands. Approximately a century and a half later, grievances relating to the respect of the land, has been resolved with the Treaty of Waitangi claim.

Around the 1850s settlement of the Rangiora area by the Europeans started to flourish, during this time, the native timber in the surrounding bush was used for building purposes and a source of fuel. Charles Obins Torlesse, a Canterbury surveyor, was inspired by the beauty and potential grazing land around the Rangiora and he built the first dwelling in the town in 1851 and thus has been recognised as the European founder of Rangiora.

Around 1860, surrounding swamplands were drained, connecting roads to Christchurch were formed by the Canterbury engineer Arthur Dudley Dobson.

The influence of Henry Blackett with the main railway trunk being established inland to Rangiora in 1872 consolidated the future of Rangiora and assured a place in the market and service centre of the North Canterbury region.

In 1873 the town’s first post office was opened and later in the year a telegraph network link was established.

Rangiora was constituted a borough on 14th May 1878 and Henry Blackett was elected as the first mayor.

The Waimakariri District came into effect with the almagamation of Rangiora and several other counties and boroughs in 1989.

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