We've spent the summer exploring new places to add to our personalised travel itineraries. It's a tough life! We spent most of our time in Central Otago, checking out places off the beaten track.
One such place was the quaint and historic town of Ophir.
Originally the township was known as Blacks, after the Black brothers on whose farm gold was discovered in 1863. The name was changed to Ophir in 1875, when Superintendent James Macandrew, declared the settlement to be Ophir, honouring the biblical land where the Queen of Sheba obtained gold for King Solomon. An apt name for a goldmining town! At its height Ophir’s population was well over a 1000 people. It is now home to just 53 permanent residents. Don't be fooled into thinking that means that there's nothing to see though. The town of Ophir has many historic buildings, many of which are protected by the Historic Places Trust. The original goldminers cottages made of schist and adobe, the Courthouse (built 1884), the policeman’s house (built 1870’s), the cottage hospital, the bank, the Union Church and the Post Office all add to the charm of this idyllic little place. The historic post office has operated continuously on this site since 1863. It was built in 1886 and in 1976 it was purchased by the Historic Places Trust and restored. It still has most of its original features, including interior furnishings and has not changed much since its original construction. The Post Office still operates today and is the oldest of all NZ post offices still running. The Postmistress was a jolly lady who took pleasure in giving us a tour and letting the kids choose postcards, a stamp and then frank them themselves before posting them 'behind the scenes'. On top of all that they have an amazing licensed cafe, with accomodation, and a beautiful pub called Blacks. Their accommodation will make you smile. They have 10 beautifully presented en-suite rooms. Each room has its own unique identity. Themed rooms with a twist.... The Reverend's room.....Sassy Wee Lassy......Hot Jock...... to name but a few. Named after the Naked Scotsman’s gourmet sauce range (which i can say is absolutely delicious).
We went there for dinner and thoroughly enjoyed our Haggis for entree and then a main of Pork Belly. It was absolutely divine. The new owner's are a friendly bunch, and as well as only serving wines from the local area, they have an extensive NZ beer list.
Another of our favourite places in this area is St Bathans.