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Fairlie
Town
A cast sculpture mounted on a boulder. The sculpture depicts a long haired and bearded man, dressed in a shirt and trousers and carrying a staff. By his side is a sheep dog. Both the man and the dog are facing right. A brass plaque is on the boulder reading "James MacKenzie & dog:Statue by Sam Mahon:Unveiled 7 November 2003". Behind the statue is a paved and treed area with small square patches of grass. A small service road is to the left of the statue, flanked by parked cars and shops.
A statue of James Mckenzie and his dog, in the centre of the town
Country New Zealand
Region Canterbury
Territorial authority Mackenzie District
Ward Opuha Ward
Area
 • Total 4.95 km2 (1.91 sq mi)
Population
 (June 2022)
 • Total 930
 • Density 187.9/km2 (486.6/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+12 (New Zealand Standard Time)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+13 (New Zealand Daylight Time)
Postcode
7925
Area code(s) 03
Local iwi Ngāi Tahu
Website http://www.mackenzie.govt.nz/

Fairlie is a Mackenzie District service town (or township) located in the Canterbury region of the South Island of New Zealand. The estimated population was 930 as of June 2022. Being on state highway 8 between Christchurch (182 km, 2 hours 20 minutes drive) and Queenstown (300 km 3.5 hours drive), tourism is fast becoming a major industry within the town. Kimbell is 8 km west of Fairlie via state highway 8. Geraldine is 45 km east via state highway 79 and Timaru is 58 km southeast of Fairlie via state highway 8. Fairlie sits at an altitude of 301 metres above sea level.

From 1884 to 1968, the town was served by the Fairlie Branch railway, though until 1934, this branch line actually terminated a kilometre beyond Fairlie in Eversley.

Fairlie is commonly known as the gateway to the Mackenzie Basin. The town was initially called Fairlie's Creek, a name purportedly chosen by David Hamilton, the brother-in-law of James Lister (or Lizter), who had built a boarding house near the creek. The name Hamilton had been suggested, but was rejected due to similarity to the City of Hamilton in the North Island. David Hamilton suggested the town be named Fairlie after Fairlie, Scotland, which he had visited as part of his honeymoon. After 1892, the town's name was shortened to Fairlie.

The Opihi River runs past Fairlie.

Demographics

Fairlie is described by Statistics New Zealand as a rural settlement. It covers 4.95 km2 (1.91 sq mi) and had an estimated population of 930 as of June 2022, with a population density of 188 people per km2.

Historical population for Fairlie
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
2006 867 —    
2013 861 −0.10%
2018 885 +0.55%

Fairlie had a population of 885 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 24 people (2.8%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 18 people (2.1%) since the 2006 census. There were 378 households, with 384 occupied private dwellings and a further 93 unoccupied private dwellings. There were 435 males and 447 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.97 males per female. The median age was 47.3 years (compared with 37.4 years nationally), with 138 people (15.6%) aged under 15 years, 141 (15.9%) aged 15 to 29, 369 (41.7%) aged 30 to 64, and 234 (26.4%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 89.5% European/Pākehā, 7.8% Māori, 0.3% Pacific peoples, 5.8% Asian, and 1.4% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).

The proportion of people born overseas was 20.3%, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 45.4% had no religion, 44.4% were Christian, 0.7% were Buddhist and 1.4% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 105 (14.1%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 189 (25.3%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $25,700, compared with $31,800 nationally. 78 people (10.4%) earned over $70,000 compared to 17.2% nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 348 (46.6%) people were employed full-time, 123 (16.5%) were part-time, and 6 (0.8%) were unemployed.

Opua statistical area

The Opua statistical area surrounds but does not include Fairlie. It covers 1,978.38 km2 (763.86 sq mi) and had an estimated population of 1,430 as of June 2022, with a population density of 0.72 people per km2.

Historical population for Opua
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
2006 1,107 —    
2013 1,263 +1.90%
2018 1,347 +1.30%

Opua had a population of 1,347 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 84 people (6.7%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 240 people (21.7%) since the 2006 census. There were 501 households. There were 726 males and 621 females, giving a sex ratio of 1.17 males per female. The median age was 40.0 years (compared with 37.4 years nationally), with 294 people (21.8%) aged under 15 years, 240 (17.8%) aged 15 to 29, 660 (49.0%) aged 30 to 64, and 153 (11.4%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 95.5% European/Pākehā, 6.0% Māori, 1.1% Pacific peoples, 2.0% Asian, and 1.6% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).

The proportion of people born overseas was 12.9%, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 49.7% had no religion, 41.0% were Christian, 0.7% were Hindu, 0.2% were Buddhist and 0.2% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 165 (15.7%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 192 (18.2%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $36,600, compared with $31,800 nationally. 171 people (16.2%) earned over $70,000 compared to 17.2% nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 633 (60.1%) people were employed full-time, 198 (18.8%) were part-time, and 12 (1.1%) were unemployed.

Facilities and sports

Mackenzie agricultural and pastoral show

Fairlie hosts the annual Mackenzie District Agricultural and Pastoral show every Easter Monday. The first show was in 1899. The 100th edition ran in 1998. The show has been cancelled three times. Firstly in 1925 because of a polio epidemic, in 1943 due to WWII and 1948 due to an infantile paralysis epidemic.

Ski fields

Fairlie is near the Two Thumb mountain range. There are two ski fields close located nearby. Mount Dobson Ski Field is 28 km drive from Fairlie, as is Fox Peak Ski Field.

Golf course

The Fairlie Golf Club is an 18 hole golf course located on Talbot Street. The flat course has a 5526 metre long men's course with par being 70 and a 5017 metre long women's course with par being 72. The Fairlie 500 is a 72 hole tournament which is played on the third weekend of March each year. In April each year, the Glencairn ladies pairs tournament is held.

Rugby

The Mackenzie rugby football club is based in Fairlie at Strathconan Park. It plays in all grades in the South Canterbury Rugby Union competitions. The Fairlie Creek Football Club was established in 1884 and played the rival Albury club two to three times each year initially. The Mackenzie sub union was formed in 1907 after the formation of the Cricklewood Club in 1907. Two other teams, Cave in 1911 and Alpine in 1912, also joined the Mackenzie sub union. After World War II, Tekapo and Pukaki also joined the Mackenzie sub union. In 1953, after the retirement of a number of players, the various clubs merged to form the Mackenzie rugby football club.

Swimming pool

The Strathconan pool is located on School Road, Fairlie. It is open between October and March each year. The facility includes a 25 metre heated indoor swimming pool. Management of the pool was transferred from the Mackenzie District Council to Belgravia Leisure for the 2020-2021 season.

Ice skating

The Fairlie Ice Rink is located between the Fairlie Domain and the Fairlie Campground. The ice rink is based on a man made pond and is reliant on cold weather which determines the length of the ice skating season. The location of the ice rink is two degrees Celsius colder than the town. The ice rink has been operating since the 1930s.

Half marathon

The Mackenzie Half-Marathon which first ran in July 2020 starts in Fairlie. 355 runners competed. The second edition ran in July 2021. The course includes a river crossing.

Skateboarding

A $100,000 skateboard park was proposed for Fairlie. It was finished in early 2021 and would have costed the community significantly more had not 1200 hours of work been completed by local volunteers.

Fairlie heritage museum

Fairlie Heritage Museum 27
Fairlie Heritage Museum (July 2021)

The Fairlie heritage museum contains a collection of farm machinery, as well as many buildings including the old railway station. The Fairlie Heritage Museum has one of the biggest vintage wagon and carriage collections in the country.

Education

Fairlie war memorial 27
Fairlie War Memorial in the town centre (July 2021)

Fairlie has three schools:

  • Fairlie School is a state contributing primary (Year 1 to 6) school. It has 121 students as of April 2023.
  • Mackenzie College is a state Year 7 to 13 secondary school. It has 163 students as of April 2023.
  • Saint Joseph's School is a state-integrated Catholic full primary (Year 1 to 8) school. It has 14 students as of April 2023.

Notable buildings

The Gladstone Grand Hotel is a category two listed building built in 1884.

The Mount Cook Line building (which were formerly stables dating from 1906). This category two building was listed in 1984.

Fairlie is known for its pies produced at the Fairlie Bakehouse. There are two church buildings, St Columba on Main Street and St Stephen's on Kirke Street. They are part of Mackenzie Cooperating Parish, an ecumenical parish.

In 2017, Westpac closed their Fairlie branch which left the town without a bank.

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