Founded and named by Englishman Charles Thynne Thomas in the 1860s, it lies at the northern tip of the South Island, near Riwaka

It's no secret that New Zealand and India share a common history with regards to their respective connections with England.

And a lot many English army men, after completing their tenures in India, immigrated to the land of the long white cloud in the 19th century with hopes of a more peaceful life here. These men, who were enchanted by the beauty of India, could never let go of their attachment to that country, and thus renamed the places where they settled after their favourite places of India.

One such place is 'Dehra Doon' in Riwaka near the Abel Tasman National Park in the South Island.

The story of how and why it happened goes like this.

Born in 1798 in Bath, England, Mr Charles Thynne Thomas left for India in May 1820. There, he became a colonel in the 15th Bengal Infantry and married Anne Tovey (who was born in India) in 1829. After fighting for the British troops in 1857 in India's First War of Independence, Mr Thomas sailed to New Zealand in 1860 to settle on the land he had previously bought in Riwaka.

Historical records indicate that the area had a Maori name then. But Mr Thomas felt it was so much like his Dehradun station farm in India.

Moreover, he also wanted to honour the part of Ireland (also called Dehra Doon), which had sent a large number of troops to join the Colonel's forces in India.

Thus after much deliberation, he renamed the surroundings of Riwaka Dehra Doon.

Colonel Thomas died aged 76 as a result of a horse riding accident and was buried in the Riwaka cemetery.

The area is still owned by his descendants, Frederick Charles Thomas and William Rhys Thomas, who run a fruit growing, packing, and cool storage company called Thomas Brothers there.