Formally known as Kowal Pass until 1880, Springfield is a small town in the Selwyn District of Canterbury on the South Island of New Zealand. It is situated at the foot of the Southern Alps, about 65 kilometres west of Christchurch.
The town is the most westerly town in the Central Canterbury Plains and has a long held association with the Midland railway line. Springfield is a significant stop on the TranzAlpine train journey that travels across the Southern Alps.
The place was once a coal mining town with two mines back in the 1870s. this is what led the railway to initially find its way to the town back in the 1880.
As the railway continued to expand, to the coast and beyond, Springfield became somewhat of a railway centre, with the Cobb and Co. Stage Coach setting up base there for the ensuing 50 years.
The railway tradition in Springfield has continued up to the present day with the TranzAlpine railway now making its final stop prior to passing through the Southern Alps in Springfield.
What to Do
Springfield benefits from its close proximity to the many activities and points of interest in the Canterbury Plains. Many visitors come to the area while travelling on the TranzAlpine train line, which stops in Springfield. Springfield, also known as the “Gateway to the Alps,” is an excellent destination for skiing enthusiasts as it is close to six different ski areas, including Porters, Mt. Cheeseman, Mt. Olympus, Broken River, Cragieburn, and Temple Basin ski areas.
Visitors can also enjoy a number of different adventures both on the ground and in the area. There are various aerial tours as well as 4WD tours and horsetreks available to visitors as well.
Visitors can also enjoy the close proximity to New Zealand’s youngest National Park, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park. The park is only 10-minutes driving away from Springfield and it is filled with walking trail and beautiful natural scenery. Springfield is also close to the much larger Arthur’s Pass National Park, which is also filled with walking trails.
Visitors to Arthur’s Pass can choose from a selection of both short and multiday walks. Rock climbers will also relish the close proximity to the famous Castle Hill Rocks, which provide some of the worlds best rock climbing and bouldering.
If you just want to spend a relaxing day, or are looking to wind down at the end of a long day out in the great outdoors, then head to one of the cafes, wineries, restaurants or bakeries in and around town.
Springfield is home to a surprisingly large array of wineries and eateries.
Whether it is an afternoon tasting local wines at one of the wineries, sitting in a café with a nice cup of coffee and taking in the scenery, or enjoying a fine meal at one of the restaurants, the culinary scene in Springfield is sure to appease visitors.
Despite the town’s small size (it only has around 300 permanent residents) there are a number of accommodation options for visitors. Ranging from cottages, backpacker’s hostels, motels, hotels, and other self-contained holiday rental options, there is something for every taste and budget in Springfield.
Travelling from Abroad?
While the town does not have an airport, Christchurch, which is only around 65 kilometres away, does have a relatively large international airport. Christchurch is serviced by a number of international destinations daily.
Of course, as previously mentioned, the TranzAlpine train also stops in Springfield each day. Between these two options, Springfield is very easily accessible for visitors to New Zealand.