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Darfield, New Zealand facts for kids

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Minor urban area
A brown sign on the side of the road says "Darfield". Several cars are parked on the side of the road. Trees are visible to the left and buildings in the distance.
Darfield sign on New Zealand State Highway 73, the main street of Darfield
Country New Zealand
Region Canterbury
Territorial authority Selwyn District
Ward Malvern
Electorates Selwyn
Te Tai Tonga
 • Total 15.14 km2 (5.85 sq mi)
 (June 2020)
 • Total 2,960
 • Density 195.5/km2 (506.4/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+12 (NZST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+13 (NZDT)
Area code(s) 03
Local iwi Ngāi Tahu

Darfield is a town in the Selwyn District of the South Island of New Zealand. It is 35 kilometres west of the outskirts of Christchurch. Its population is 2,960 as of June 2020.

Darfield is the main town between Christchurch and the West Coast region. It is often called "The township under the nor'west arch" in reference to a characteristic weather phenomenon that often creates an arch of cloud in an otherwise clear sky to the west of the township. This is caused by the condensation of water particles channelled upwards over the Southern Alps / Kā Tiritiri o te Moana.

Darfield lies in the Malvern district's arable and pastoral farming area. It is a gateway to the scenic Waimakariri and Rakaia rivers and the Southern Alps, and is also a popular lift-off place for hot air ballooning.

Darfield is located around the former junction of the railway lines coming from Christchurch and going to Whitecliffs (where coal was mined) and Springfield and on to the West Coast.


Darfield is described by Statistics New Zealand as a small urban area, and covers 15.14 km2 (5.85 sq mi). It had an estimated population of 2,960 as of June 2020, with a population density of 196 people per km2.

Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
2006 1,974 —    
2013 2,397 +2.81%
2018 2,724 +2.59%

Darfield had a population of 2,724 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 327 people (13.6%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 750 people (38.0%) since the 2006 census. There were 1,053 households. There were 1059 occupied private dwellings and a further 63 unoccupied private dwellings. There were 1,338 males and 1,389 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.96 males per female. The median age was 43.9 years (compared with 37.4 years nationally), with 507 people (18.6%) aged under 15 years, 435 (16.0%) aged 15 to 29, 1,218 (44.7%) aged 30 to 64, and 564 (20.7%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 94.6% European/Pākehā, 6.6% Māori, 1.4% Pacific peoples, 2.0% Asian, and 3.1% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).

The proportion of people born overseas was 16.3%, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 52.5% had no religion, 38.3% were Christian, 0.2% were Hindu, 0.2% were Muslim, 0.1% were Buddhist and 1.1% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 348 (15.7%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 462 (20.8%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $36,400 with 20.3% earning over $70,000, compared with a median income of $31,800 nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 1,146 (51.7%) people were employed full-time, 324 (14.6%) were part-time, and 39 (1.8%) were unemployed.

The population of Darfield was 830 people in 1971.


Darfield has numerous kindergartens. The original Darfield school was opened in 1883 with a total of 18 students attending. by 1902 the school had two teachers and ninety-three students children on the school roll.

Darfield Primary School is Darfield's sole primary school, catering for years 1 to 6. It has 196 students.

Darfield High School is Darfield's sole intermediate/highschool, catering for years 7 to 13. It has 843 students. The school was established in 1951 as a secondary school, and expanded to cover intermediate students in 1978.

Both schools are coeducational. Rolls are as of July 2016.


Darfield Clock
Clock at Darfield, October 2013


Darfield is serviced with the 86 bus route, a morning and evening express route that connects the town with Central Christchurch, via Kirwee, West Melton and Yaldhurst.


Darfield is served by the Midland railway line. The TranzAlpine train stops twice daily (request only); en route to the West Coast and on its return trip back to Christchurch.


Darfield is served by State Highway 73 (Great Alpine Highway), connecting Christchurch with the West Coast region and State Highway 77, connecting Darfield with Ashburton via Methven, the Rakaia Gorge and Glentunnel.

Notable people

  • John Wright (5 July 1954), New Zealand cricketer and former coach of the Indian national cricket team
  • Mary Clinton (8 May 1960), New Zealand field hockey player
  • Brian Connell (23 April 1956), politician
  • James Te Huna (29 September 1981), first New Zealander to enter the UFC, 2010 (Ultimate Fighting Championships)

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