The Ashburton District “The Granary of New Zealand” covers the central part of the South Island. The area is bounded in the east by the Pacific Ocean, the west by the Southern Alps and has as its northern and southern boundaries, the Rakaia and Rangitata Rivers respectively. The district covers some 6,175 square kilometres and has a total population of 26,000 (Census 2001).
Half the land area is hilly or mountainous and includes remnants of the native forest cover especially in the foothills. The remainder, the largest area of flat land in any district of New Zealand, has little original vegetation cover and is intensively farmed.
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