Best bits, a kiwi town
Ormondville there are plenty of things to do. The town, which is 22 kilometres north-west of Dannevirke, is most known for its railway station. The Ormondville railway station in southern Hawke’s Bay was once the hub of the district. It was a place where journeys of all kinds began; soldiers left for the First and Second World Wars from its platform, farm stock was loaded and transported, as were volumes of many other goods. Now only a handful of freight trains trundle along the tracks each day. As transportation methods changed, the station became less relevant, and finally closed its doors in 1991.
- Railway Station and surrounds
The Ormondville Rail Preservation Group Inc was established in 1986 to save the Ormondville Station Precinct after its closure.
The station, built in 1880, has a Category Two listing with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. It won the Rail Heritage Award in 1997 and the National Federation of Rail Societies Inc.’s Paul Heighton Trophy “For Excellence” in 2000. Restored to a 1950s theme, it is furnished with railway artifacts and fronted with a graceful wrought iron verandah. Read more
Ormondville station is also available for self catering homestay accommodation, offering a complete railway nostalgia experience in a rural setting. Read more
When its future looked doubtful in 1986, a group of heritage railway enthusiasts formed the Ormondville Rail Preservation Group (ORPG) to set about restoring, at first, the goods shed and, later, the station. Now the picturesque Vogel-era station, built in 1880, has been preserved in authentic 1950s working condition.
Classed as a Heritage Two historic place, the Ormondville station is now ‘the finest example and only surviving Class 5 (smallest) station’ remaining on the New Zealand railways operating system.
Ormondville railway station was built as part of the New Zealand government initiative to open up the country to rail during the 1880s.
Each district was keen to have its section of railway built first and openings were a big occasion, accompanied by much fanfare: brass bands and politicians, the cutting of a ribbon as the train approached, all cheered on by excited crowds.
However, Ormondville station never received such a grand opening. Costs to build the railway lines had spiraled over budget due to the length of time it took to work in such difficult terrain. Added to this, three viaducts had to be built nearby.
- 1880 –opened without much fanfare
- 1901 – Goods shed enlarged for freight and postal services
- 1950s – peak years for freight: 120,000 sheep and 7000 cattle; 20,000 bales of wool
- 1985 – Goods yard closes to all traffic
- 1986 – Ormondville Railway Preservation Group established
- 1991 – Closed as a crossing station and last traffic operator withdrawn
- 1997 – 117th celebrations held for Ormondville railway station
- 2001– Last Bay Express passenger train, 7 October
- 2015 – ORPG gets a lottery board grant of $150,000 to restore the historic goods shed
Source: Acknowledges information above is largely part of the promotion materials of the Ormondville Railway Preservation Group Trust
Things to do in Ormondville include a visit to the local pub, Settlers Arm Tavern for a coffee or to sample the local brew.
WHERE TO TAKE THE BEST SELFIE
- Railway station platform and you might be luck as a freight train roars through on its way to Wellington
- Historic Anglican Church of Epiphany (built 1891) One of the prettiest churches in the Hawkes Bay it continues its function as the parish church. The bell continues to ring on Sunday and a massive key unlocks the main door. The timber framed church gleams with the patina of age.
- In 1884 resident Rowland Herbert Edwards murdered his entire family and was later hanged.
- 69 (2018)
Every town adds to the richness of things to do and see. For more details about the region check Wellington & Wairarapa Region nearby attractions and events.
BEST BITS TRAVEL GUIDE