Ophir Post Office
A small but significant legacy from the Central Otago gold rushes, this handsome post office is just one gem in a town full of architectural treasures.
Telegraph services have long-since ceased, but people wishing to post a letter are in luck – Ophir is the oldest continually running postal service in the country, open on weekdays from 9am till noon. Buy a postcard and frank it yourself by hand using the office’s original Victorian-era rubber stamp. Will those receiving your correspondence notice this old-world memento, prized by collectors the world over?
The original settlement here was known as Blacks No. 1 or Blackton One and sprang up during the golden era of the 1860s. In 1872 it was renamed Ophir after the Biblical place where King Solomon obtained gold for the temple in Jerusalem.
By the 1880s the town had reached its peak population of around 1000, well served by a cluster of stores, hotels, banks, churches, a hospital, police station and school. A real treat for today’s visitors, Ophir’s heritage sights include many photogenic cottages and commercial buildings, as well as a particularly charming stone and timber suspension bridge.
Ophir Post Office is the most gracious landmark of them all, built in 1886 in a style reflecting the importance of government services in isolated communities such as this. Diminutive yet imposing, it is fashioned from mostly unworked schist slabs with a touch of square pointing on the formal façade, notable for its concrete pillars and arched arcade.
In 1976 the Post Office was taken over by Heritage New Zealand and restored. Fortunately, the interior remains largely unchanged, and features the original counter, sorting bench, pigeonholes and instrument table. As well as posting a letter franked with the original VR stamp, visitors can peek into the tiny jailhouse at the far end of the pretty garden – a lovely spot for a picnic on a bright, Central Otago day.
Come and visit!
Find out about our opening hours and much more here.
This post office is one of many quaint buildings lining the gold-rush town of Ophir.