Leithfield, is one of the oldest townships in Canterbury.  Leithfield was founded in 1857 by John Leith as an important coach stop and to provide services to the surrounding farming and milling area.  In 1863 Leithfield boasted one of the first flour mills in North Canterbury and the only one to be powered by wind. The village flourished in the 1870s when it was the only business centre at the time, between Kaiapoi and Kaikoura.

Today Leithfield village offers a fabulous walk, known as the Kowai Walkway, a well maintained track from the historic Old Leithfield Hotel to the coastal settlement of Leithfield Beach.