Ashburton (Māori: Hakatere) is a town and district in the Canterbury Region on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is the third-largest centre in Canterbury, after Christchurch and Timaru. The area around Ashburton is frequently referred to as Mid Canterbury, which is also the name of the district's representative sports teams.
Ashburton was named by the surveyor Captain Joseph Thomasof the New Zealand Land Association, after Francis Baring, 3rd Baron Ashburton, who was a member of the Canterbury Association. The town is laid out around two central squares either side of the railway line and main highway, Baring Square East and Baring Square West.
A common nickname for Ashburton is 'Ashvegas', an ironic allusion to Las Vegas. This may be due to the respectability, and conservatism of the residents.
Ashburton is on State Highway 1 86 km south of Christchurch. The Main South Line railway line runs through the centre of town, but passenger trains 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 suburb, Tinwald, south of the town and the Ashburton River. Tinwald was the junction for the now-closed Mount Somers Branch railway line.
The Ashburton District extends from the Pacific Ocean to the Southern Alps, and from the Rangitata River to the Rakaia River, including the towns of Methven, Mount Somers, and Rakaia.
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