Ormondville, Tararua District, Southern Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
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The 'Silver Fern' railcar is shown here passing through Ormondville Station in April 2010, bound for Napier. The next two shots below follow the railcar through the station and out across the Ormondville Viaduct. (Photo: Doug Scott)
Where are We?: Ormondville Railway Station is located in the heart of the tiny township of Ormondville, in the Tararua District, Southern Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. Ormondville is about six kilometres, via the Norsewood-Ormondville Road, from the town of Norsewood, which in turn is located on State Hwy 2.
Past and Present: Before the Hawkes Bay railway opened through the district in 1880, the mostly Scandinavian village of Norsewood (est. 1872) was the district’s main town. Soon, though, and for many decades thereafter, Ormondville predominated. The primary cause for this transition was the railway station, as the station served as the window to the world for an area stretching between the Ruahine Ranges and the east coast. The Government also established the district's service and communications infrastructure (i.e. court house, police station, post & telegraph office) at Ormondville. Now, though, Ormondville's most apparent features are its school, its fire station, the beautiful Church of the Epiphany (built 1882-3), a couple of halls, the Settlers Arms Hotel – and its railway station. A few other old buildings - and empty sections where more once stood - hint at the past it had.
Rail v Road: With the arrival of the railway, travellers and business-people could now substitute the hazard-prone main road (now State Hwy 2) between Napier and the Manawatu Gorge, for the relative comfort and reliability then provided by New Zealand Railways. Well, at least this early railways-style comfort and reliability was an improvement on such things as coach travel, timber wagons, horse-riding and walking. In the short-term, the region’s livestock probably found rail travel (to the freezing works) preferable too.
End of an Old Era: However, times and favoured modes of transport have changed, and Ormondville’s period of district prominence, linked so closely with that of its station, has ended. State Hwy 2 is, therefore, the main route through the region once again. The station closed to freight traffic in 1985, the last staff departed in 1991, and that could have been this story’s end...
Ormondville is representative of many small New Zealand towns and the history of its railway station is typical of over 1,000 country stations. Typical, except that virtually all the others have vanished.
Start of a New Era: Until the Bay Express stopped running on 7 October 2001, Ormondville station was New Zealand’s oldest station building served by Tranz Scenic trains. It remains, however, New Zealand’s oldest complete rural rail precinct, which Ormondville Rail Preservation Group is restoring to match its 1950s heyday. To give the old station a new purpose, and in addition to restoration, ORPG has remodelled part of its interior. As a result, it now accommodates visitors as a unique ‘country homestay’ with a railway flavour – complete with the occasional passing goods train.
The station has a Category Two listing with the NZ Historical Places Trust. In 1997, it won the Rail Heritage Trust's Restoration Award, and in 2000, it won the National Federation of Rail Societies' Paul Heighton Trophy for overall "Excellence."
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General District History
This website belongs to: Ormondville Rail Preservation Group Inc.
Postal Address: c/- Ormondville Railway Station, Matamau-Ormondville Road, R.D. 7, Dannevirke 4977, New Zealand.
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This website was born on 28th November 1999.