Until 1880, Springfield (Tawera) was known as Kowai Pass, a small town in the Selwyn District of Canterbury, in the South Island, of New Zealand. At the foot of the Southern Alps, 65 kilometres (40 miles) west of Christchurch. it is the most westerly town of the central Canterbury Plains. Springfield has a long association with the Midland railway line.
Rail is a Feature
Springfield is a significant stop on the TranzAlpine train journey across the Southern Alps on the Midland Line. The town is also home to the Midland Rail Heritage Trust a rail preservation group that has established a base in the former NZR locomotive depot opposite the railway station. The Springfield Hotel was a stop on the road west from Christchurch for horse-drawn coaches.
When trains became the usual way to travel between Canterbury and the West Coast, the train station refreshment rooms were a popular stop. Water from the Kowai River, just beyond Springfield, was diverted in the 1870s to supply one of Canterbury's early systems of stock water races to the local farms.