“I can’t come all the way down here without having a cheese roll!” Determined to sample the South Island’s celebrated snack, Neill led the way into Pleasant Point’s Steamer Café. Well, the cheese rolls were on display but what also caught our eyes was a framed stained-glass depiction of a steam train.
“When we were renovating the building we found it tucked in behind what used to be the bar, so we had it framed and put some lighting behind it to show it off to best advantage,” explained café operator Andrew. Just the previous day Andrew and fiancée Mel had opened the café that had been closed for a period after having operated as a restaurant/bar, the Steam on Inn, for more than 25 years. “And they’re getting married next month!” added Andrew’s mum Nicky, who was helping the busy pair in the kitchen. The references to steam in the café and restaurant names allude to the railway station directly across the road and the trains that began operating on the line in 1875.
I’d been interested in seeing the old Pleasant Point post office, which had been built in the early 1900s at about the same time as the St Bathans and Kaeo post offices. It’s of comparable build and clearly of the same vintage but is a more substantial building. Having had other past lives, one being as a café, it’s now in private ownership and showing its age. Similarly, the nearby church, a victim of the Christchurch earthquake, is now fenced off awaiting probable demolition. Swallows had obviously made homes inside and were busily flying in and out of the holes in the tower from where the hands of the church clocks had been removed.