Get off here and the earth moves
Heather Ramsay makes tracks to the railway station in tiny Ormondville.
THERE’S ONLY one place to stay in the tiny Tararua hamlet of Ormondville, and its visitors’ book is full of revelations about nocturnal activity. Whether you’re 18 or 80, or whether you’re wearing sexy lingerie or flannelette pyjamas, you’re virtually guaranteed some rollicking action at night. “The earth moved” is a popular entry, while others indulge in one-upmanship by claiming that it moved twice, or even thrice, in one night.
But it isn’t anything in the water, or even the invigorating country air that gets things shaking, rattling and rolling. It’s simply because the accommodation is the historic Ormondville Railway Station, which sits just metres from the main railway link into Hawke’s Bay. Most nights you can expect a few freight trains to disturb your slumber as they thunder through, but that’s an integral part of the experience.
The railway station was opened in 1880 but changing times saw the station closed to freight traffic in 1985, with the last staff departing in 1991. The future of the little station looked grim, but thanks to the Ormondville Railway Preservation Group the entire railway precinct was saved from the fate that befell similar stations around the country.
The main station has been painstakingly restored and fitted out as a unique accommodation venue complete with railway memorabilia, 1950s decor and photos and literature documenting the history of the station. The living room was the main station office, and it’s so authentic that I expected the station-master to walk in at any moment.
No doubt he’d check the old station clock, then operate the bright red metal boxes that were part of the tablet exchange system that gave drivers authority to drive a section of line, then record information in the log book on the table. After a cup of good railway tea, he’d hang his blazer on the coat rack and snatch a snooze in front of the crackling fire.
However, unlike us, the station-master didn’t have the luxury of a cosy double bed in the former parcel room, or even the twin beds and bunks in the ticket office and waiting room. And luckily the box-and-bucket toilet system in the ladies’ waiting room has been replaced by a flush toilet. Down the platform, a couple of modest, wagon-mounted railway workers’ huts (think cabins on wheels) complete the accommodation picture.
The station has a kitchen, but we dined across the road at the Settlers Arms Tavern, which serves good pub food in the bar, and food with more flair in the attached restaurant. Emboldened by a few brews, friendly locals spun us a yarn or two, but we were careful not to overindulge. After all, we wanted the earth to move for us later in the night.
Need to know…
WHERE: Turn east off SH2 at Norsewood, follow the signs to Ormondville. After 6km turn right at the railway crossing, station on the right.
Contact: Telephone: 06 374 1514.
Email: [email protected]
Rates: $65 doubt/twin; extra person $10. Sleeps up to 10, including huts.
Photo captions –
STEP BACK: A freight train or two may disturb your slumber at the tiny Ormondville railway station.
STOPOVER: The ticket office and waiting room now have beds and bunks.