Pleasant Point, New Zealand
|Motto: "The name says it all"|
|Territorial authority||Timaru District|
|Elevation||65 m (213 ft)|
|Time zone||NZST (UTC+12)|
|• Summer (DST)||NZDT (UTC+13)|
Pleasant Point is a small country town in southern Canterbury, New Zealand, some 19 km inland from Timaru, on State Highway 8. A service town for the surrounding farming district, it has a population of 1,310 and one of its main attractions is the heritage railway, the Pleasant Point Museum and Railway, which operates steam locomotives and one of only two Model T Ford railcar replicas in the world. It attracts about 10,000 people a year. For almost one hundred years, the Fairlie branch line railway passed through the town. It closed on 2 March 1968, and the heritage line utilises 2.5 km of track along the branch's old route.
Pleasant Point is also known for glassblowing, taxidermy, blacksmithing and custard squares, and Māori rock art can be viewed nearby. Vineyards have also been established in the area. It also has two primary schools, a preschool and a play centre. Pleasant Point High School was closed by the Labour government in 2004. It has two rivers nearby, the Opihi and the TeNgawai; the two rivers meet just to the north of the town.
"Pleasant Point" was not always the town's name, during the early 1800s waggoners would travel from Timaru to the Mackenzie Country, to access its rich hunting grounds. These trips would take three to six weeks for a return trip, as the land was mainly tussock, flaxes and matagouri, with few tracks. These waggoners would stop at camps along the way, a popular one being "The Point." The "point" itself is unknown and often left up to speculation and theories. These include, the "point" being the place at which the TeNgawai and Opihi rivers meet. One theory suggests the "point is the cut in the hill, possible at the foot of Manse Road, as this is where the town grew from. "The Point" grew into one of the most popular camps along the route. Campers started referring to it as "Pleasant Point" due to its access to food and water for the horses, a fully stocked hotel and pleasant surroundings.
As early as 1870 the streets of Pleasant Point had been named and surveyed, although these names were not publicised, this lead to many streets being referred to by landmarks. Halstead Road was often called School Road, due to the school being located there. Harris Street was known as Church Street as it was the location of the first Anglican church, the Main Road was often referred to as Dominion Street, presumably linked to New Zealand's declaration as a Dominion. However as the township began to grow the street names became a necessity and streets where signposted. The town was divided up into sections, streets to the south of the railway line have Afghan names. This is presumably linked to the Anglo-Afghan wars that were making the news at the time. The streets in the northern part of the town are named after early settlers to the area or notable people who own property in the locality. William Halstead was a fellmonger who owned land on Halstead Road, John Porter Harris owned the land on Harris Street, although early maps call the street Le Cren Street after Henry John Le Cren who use to own the land. The streets in the western part are named after local trees.
Early on, Pleasant Point was recognized as a centre for buying and selling stock. The first stockmarket in South Canterbury was held in Pleasant Point on the 8 December 1871.
A report in the Timaru Herald on 2nd November 1881 read as follows:
On Monday, the yards erected by the Pleasant Point Saleyards Company were opened. The capacity of the cattle yards was fully tested by an entry of four hundred head and the opinion was freely expressed that the Company will require to complete their original design. This they have been unable to do through the want of support by a number of persons who entered cordially into the preliminary arrangements and have not taken up shares so freely as the management was led to anticipate.
The commodious sheep pens were not greatly patronised, the present season not being favourable for large sales of sheep but this department is pretty certain to be a prominent feature in future sales. Having secured a site of four acres, the Directors have provided for ample development which may be fairly predicted for the business of a centre commanding such a large and agriculturally thriving district. The Levels Road Board have lately removed a very narrow bridge in the immediate vicinity and erected a substantial structure giving free access to the Company‘s grounds.The auctioneers were Jones, Wildie, Allan and Stumbles and Maclean and Stewart and, with the very large attendance, the day's proceedings were probably satisfactory. The Directors have arranged a very liberal scale of charges for travelling stock, drafting purposes, etc., and there is no doubt shareholders will be handsomely paid for their enterprises.
By 1896 the saleyards were the largest in South Canterbury; by 1905 they were the second largest saleyards in Canterbury, behind Addington in Christchurch. In the early 1970s the Pleasant Point directors approached the Temuka Saleyard Company with the suggestion of the two companies amalgamating, and in 1979 the Pleasant Point Saleyards closed.
On 13 March 1986 Pleasant Point lay witness to the worst flood in South Canterbury's history. The flood caused people in the western part of the town to be evacuated and up to five helicopters were operating too get people to dry ground. The flood caused millions of dollars in damages.
- Wilson, John (17 July 2015). "Cakes from Pleasant Point". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
- Pleasant Point - A History by Olwyn Oliver (1989)
- Pleasant Point at the Timaru District Council
- Pleasant Point at Central South Island Tourism
- Pleasant Point Railway & Historical Society
- Teara, South Canterbury Places
- The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Canterbury Provinces
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