Mandeville may seem like a sleepy little town that travelers pass through on their way to elsewhere, but it’s worth stopping by, Sandy Eggleston reports.
Mandeville is a quaint town on State Highway 94, about 10 minutes from Gore, home to a cafe, aviation museum, art gallery, and gift shop in a tree-lined park.
Its location makes it an easy day trip from Dunedin or Invercargill and everywhere in between.
It is also on the road to Queenstown.
Although a hotel was built on the town’s site in the 1870s to accommodate travelers, including those en route to the Waikaia and Nokomai gold deposits, Mandeville owes its existence to the railroad.
The Waimea Plains Railway Company began building a private railway line to Gore in 1879.
The directors were also part of the New Zealand Agricultural Company, which owned the land from Gore to beyond Garston.
The company planned to subdivide the land, sell it to farmers, and then use the railroad to service the area.
The directors named the town Mandeville and a station was built there.
The surveyor who laid out the city had big plans for its growth and surveyed 18 streets, which were given names such as Buffalo, Dakota, Carolina and Ohio.
In 1900, the city had a hotel, grocery stores, a butcher’s shop, a school and a flour mill.
A brick kiln near the Mandeville Country Club is all that is left of the town’s flour mill.
Today, the thirty or so houses in the city are mostly located next to the national road.
Two main buildings in the city house the Croydon Aviation Heritage Center and an art gallery featuring local artists.
The second building houses the café and the gift shop.
The center contains mostly airplanes from the 1920s and 1930s and includes the largest collection of de Havilland period planes on display in the southern hemisphere.
Visitors can also enjoy a flight in a Tiger Moth plane.
There are other attractions to keep visitors to the city entertained.
Once a month during the summer, members of the Waimea Plains Railway Trust start the Rogers K92 locomotive and put passengers into the car, which it pulls about 400m of track.
The trust intends to build a heritage railway enclosure at the site, which would include approximately 2.5 km of track.
In 1996, when the trust was formed, a freight shed was the only vestige of the old station days, but members believed Mandeville was the best place to recreate a heritage site because of its location.
Croydon Airfield provides a landing site for small planes.
Annual events such as the Mandeville Fly-in and British Motorcycle Day draw visitors to the city.
For those who wish to extend their stay beyond a simple day trip, Taylors Park on
the outskirts of town allow one night per month for autonomous vehicles.
The Otamita stream near town is a good spot for fishing, as is the Mataura river a little further away.
Maeva Smith has lived in Mandeville most of her life.
Its location meant residents had the “best of both worlds,” Ms Smith said.
“It’s a rural way of life that is close to a city.”
The weather was different from Riversdale, about a 10 minute drive away.
“The weather is a bit microclimatic due to the effect of the Hokonui hills, which stops the southern weather.
“Therefore [here] is drier, warmer and less windy. “
It was a good location for the airfield, which stretched east to west and allowed planes to take off with the prevailing wind.