Dunsandel is a small rural township in the Canterbury region of the South Island, New Zealand. The town is located on the Canterbury Plains just south of the Selwyn River and about 40 km south of Christchurch. Dunsandel is a junction town on SH1, halfway between Christchurch and Ashburton, with roads leading to Leeston, Southbridge and Hororata. The town provides an important refreshment stop for main road travellers with eateries and coffee shops, as well as acting as a support town for the rural hinterland.
Dunsandel had a population of 429 in the 2006 Census, an increase of 27 since 2001. The town was established to serve the local farming community which includes dairy, sheep and cropping and continues providing veterinary, transport and vehicle repair services. It has one primary school for approximately 50 children.
Dunsandel is the name of a family residence in Ireland of the the Hon R Daly who owned the “run” on which most of the township was built. Haldon Station was the other “run” upon which some of the township was built.
In the late 1860’s and early 1870’s a settlement was begun. Land transfers are recorded from 1867 onwards. The railway had reached the Northern bank and Selwyn River by this date. The Selwyn Rakaia section of the Railway was opened in 1873. In that year a new railway Station was opened at Dunsandel part of which had been relocated from Selwyn.
The big flood of 1868 which wrecked the Selwyn Bridge requiring a replacement also had the effect of promoting the township of Dunsandel which was on higher ground far enough from the river for residents to feel confident. This brought about the decline of Selwyn with most of it business being transferred to Dunsandel.
The new township became the junction for important roads, North, South, East and West. It became a place where travellers could be refreshed or rest and a thriving service centre for the surrounding farmlands.
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