Nestled at the north-western end of the Hokonui Hills, Mandeville’s past, present and future are linked to aviation. Where else can you jump in a Tiger Moth for a flight?
Did you know?
- The largest collection of de Havilland vintage aircraft in the southern hemisphere is found at Mandeville
- A replica of reputedly the first aircraft to fly in New Zealand – the Pither – can be found at Mandeville
- The 18km from Gore to Mandeville was once claimed to be the busiest piece of state highway in New Zealand as the route for people and illicit alcohol escaping Gore’s prohibition laws
Mandeville is a boutique township, made famous in recent time by its association with vintage aircraft and the work of Colin and Maeve Smith, at the Croydon Aircraft Company.
The company specialises in restoring wood and fabric aircrafts from the late 1920’s and 1940’s.
The Mandeville airfield is New Zealand’s oldest operational airfield.
However, Mandeville’s Railway Hotel, built in 1860, was the drawcard during Prohibition. It received customers from throughout Southland as it was the only establishment allowed to sell alcohol legally.
In 2009 the hotel underwent a major transformation and became The Moth restaurant and bar – the name a nod to the area’s aviation links.
Today, the building continues to be a favourite stop for those after a good tipple and food, and some boutique shopping. It is home to Miss Cocoa café and Collaborate Fashion – two successful local businesses run by mother/daughter combinations.
The heritage centre features a large exhibition area popular with local artists and a hangar with some of the iconic planes of New Zealand aviation history.
Adjacent to the heritage centre is the developing Waimea Plains Railway operated by Waimea Plains Railway Trust.
What’s in a name?
Mandeville’s history dates to 1857 when two men divided their run.
One retained the southern half, which was named Reaby, and the other the northern half named Wantwood because of the lack of timber. Both these names live on in the District today
The site of Mandeville at first had no name and the hotel was called the Railway Hotel. A store soon followed. The site only needed another ‘smithy’ and another Eastern Southland colonial township would be underway.
Eager to expand the area, the men in charge of the Waimea Plains Railway Company decided an aristocratic name was needed. They settled on Mandeville, after famous 14th century explorer Sir John Mandeville.