Otaki is about 20kms south from where we live and is a town divided into three areas. The shopping area along State Highway 1 is known as Otaki Railway, and has become famous for it’s many “outlet shops”. Midway to the beach is Otaki township which contains more shops and residential areas, and finally, Otaki Beach which is mainly residential. We took a trip to Otaki township to stock up on some “real” sausages made by one of those good old fashioned butchers, none of those tasteless supermarket sausages for us. And I couldn’t resist buying a piece of pickled pork either. Then we drove back Otaki Railway to pop into one of those outlet shops which always seem to have a sale – you don’t really need to know what undergarments I purchased there.
We had a look around the historic Otaki Railway Station which has served the community since 1886, and was a major link between the town and the outside world. From the 1940s onwards, the local market gardeners flocked to the station to load up their produce onto wagons. Trucks lined up with tomatoes, pumpkins and greens, bound for markets in Wellington, Palmerston North, Wanganui, Napier and New Plymouth. But times changed, the roads improved, and now the produce is moved by truck. Sadly, the only train stopping at the station these days in the Capitol Connection commuter service which runs one service morning and night on week days.
Another local historic building a little further south is sadly no more. The century old Red House Cafe at Te Horo went up in flames a week or so ago and I wanted to see what had happened to the building. Starting life as a general store in 1911, it became the Red House Cafe in 2004. Some years ago while still trading as a store, the owner caused quite a stir in the neighbourhood when he accepted an offer from Coco-Cola to paint the building red. The locals were quite upset and some wanted to club together to buy some white paint and change the colour back. But the bright red paint job made the building a State Highway 1 icon – everyone knew where it was. We have enjoyed many a lunch and a couple of evening meals there. The food was always delicious, and the old timber building had a lovely warm old fashioned feel to it.
The Red House Cafe that was
The demolition team were making short work of the rubble, there is not much left now to be loaded up on the large truck and taken away. It was just as well that we drove down to have a look when we did – probably not long now till the site is completely cleared. It is very sad indeed to see such a wonderful old building which was the hub of the community for so long totally destroyed.