We have now finished our term of office as Caretakers at NZMCA Takapau and have thoroughly enjoyed it. We had visitors every day peaking at 6 in one night.This last 2 days have been quite chilly so we have all congregated in the hall in the evenings in front of a lovely warm fire.Last night we gave our guests a slide show of our time aboard Narrowboat “Gypsy Rover” which they all enjoyed.
We are now going to take a leisurely trip down to Carterton over the next four days with our first stop being somewhere friends Robin and Jenny recommended, Makotuku Domain. On the way we stopped at Ormondville railway station. This sleepy little hollow was once a busy railway junction.
When the railway first arrived in 1887 the prime freight was Rimu and Totara timber as this area was all forest. As the forestry diminished farming took over on the cleared land and the railway became even busier with live stock, wool, milk, fertiliser and of course meat from the freezing works for export. At it’s peak in the 1950’s there were 22 trains a day through the town and railway families made up a large percentage of the towns population. These days with containerisation there are probably no more than 3 or 4 trains a day between inland Palmerston North and the Port of Napier, none of which stop here any more.
There is a preservation group working out of the old goods shed which was all locked up and the goods sidings but there were only goods wagons on show outside. You can go and stay at the station in one of the old railway workers huts but we didn’t consider them very cheap at $75 per night for a single and $105 for a double, all self cater. They might get more customers if they dropped their prices.
We actually missed the Domain when we first passed through Makotuku but after a lunch stop we back tracked and found it. The grandstand, a reminder of days gone by when every small town had a social Rugby and Cricket team and the sports ground was a major centre for social activities. Television was the death knell of most of these places as the goal posts and the well manicured cricket grounds have all disappeared. The majority of the grounds here are knee deep in clover and grass which I suspect will get cut for hay some time soon.