Delighting in Little River’s library

I have a fascination with Little River/Awa-iti¹ on Banks Peninsula. It may stem back to when my older sister worked on a farm near there in her older teen years, and I used to stay with her during school holidays. I loved it. Every so often, but not often, we’d drive into Little River for supplies or to do errands. It felt like an excursion. There was virtually nothing there back then in the early 1970’s, although it had had a more thriving history in the past, as the ancient old fossil farmer (probably around sixty years old) used to recall to us.

It was also where I went to the pub for the first time. I was fifteen, and my sister would have been eighteen. The age limit to drink in a boozer back then was twenty-one. No one blinked an eye at my appearance, and my sister was served alcohol without comment, as she had been every other time she went in there. I got schickered, of course, after almost no drinks at all, and remain to this day a cheap drunk, in spite of a slight improvement in my quaffing abilities for a while in my younger years. The only thing in my favour was that I never knew what a hangover was until I was about forty, no matter what I drank or how I mixed it up. That was blind luck, and nothing else.

I also have a fascination with libraries. It’s more than being only about books and reading. However, I don’t try and justify or analyse it anymore – I just like and enjoy libraries, the end. As it so happens, Little River has a library that eventually became imperative for me to visit. It’s open week days and for two hours on Saturday mornings, and seeing as all my visits to, or through, Little River since my teens seem to have been on a Sunday, or not conducive to stopping, I decided on an excursion on Saturday morning to finally visit that library. It had been beckoning me for a very long time.

Little River is forty-five minutes’ drive from Christchurch, so very doable on a whim. And these days the village is thriving. It’s still little, but a bike trail from Christchurch that runs through it revived it, and now it’s quite a wee hub of activity. It has a great art gallery/gift shop that sells only work from NZ artists and writers, many of whom are local, where I bought this piwakawaka (fantail bird) pictured below, and a separate craft shop where mum – in the days when I used to bring her here on a Sunday – bought the last present for her mokopuna nui (great children) she ever bought. A pink knitted pig, from memory. After that she kind of forgot she had grandchildren, or how many of them, or where they lived, or their names, etc, etc.

Library done – and yeah, I loved all its unexceptional personality, quiet understatement, and secrets – and book checked out with a real live librarian, I turned my mind to doing one of the walks around Little River while I was there. The day was one of those brilliant sunny winter days, but, townie that I am, I forgot that after rain the countryside is wet and sneakers for footwear won’t cut it. So I deferred to walking on paved paths instead, and did something else I’d also never done there – I walked off the main road.  True, there wasn’t a lot off it, but at one stage I did think that I’d finally found the little river that Little River was named after, but it turned out to be called Police Culvert. I’m not sure if there is just one little river in this area, actually, but several.

I’d have to say that Little River does a quirky line in places to stay. There’s the Silo Stay² on the main road, and off further down through the valley there’s Okuti Garden Stayᶟ, with yurts, tipis and a house truck. I checked that place out once, thinking I might spend a weekend there in one of the intriguing accommodations, and walked all around it with no other soul there, until I came to a bigger building where it looked like a small event was underway. Okuti Garden Stay has been there for quite a long time, so I’m guessing it makes its owners a living, in spite of my ‘ghost camp’ experience.

The idea of lunch got abandoned when I had to wait too long in the queue at what I have to admit is a very good café in Little River. But it’s also a busy café, so I got too impatient and decided to just have the coffee I’d brought from home out the back of the car park on the one and only picnic table. Ambience-wise, it was the better choice.

Oh, and forget about Facebook when you’re in Little River, unless you want to use up all your phone data on it. The craft shop does a good trade in second-hand books as well, I believe.

My jaunt to Little River library has planted the idea that more jaunts to libraries may be in order. Perhaps I’ll get an obsession. Never really had one of those before 🙂

¹ Maori had names for places and areas long before Europeans settled in New Zealand, but because Maori had no written language and were colonised, places were often officially given English names (although not always). However, the Maori names for places are now frequently recognised alongside the English names, hence Little River/Awa-iti. Little River, New Zealand – Wikipedia

²SiloStay – Official Website. Book Direct. Unique and Eco Friendly

Home | Okuti

Header pic: Banks Peninsula with Christchurch in the top left corner.

Little River in the middle of the valley. It’s little 🙂 Lake Forsyth/Wairewa in the background.
The obligatory old tumbledown picturesque cottage on the way into Little River.

The piwakawaka (fantail bird) I bought at the art gallery/gift shop.

The little river that turned out to be Police Culvert.
A better choice of place to have a coffee before heading home. I notice the willows in the background are starting to get leaves. Only three weeks before it’s officially Spring!

5 thoughts on “Delighting in Little River’s library

  1. I also love Little River, and often stop at the cafe there on the way to Akaroa. I haven’t been to the library, but for a few years there was a wonderful junk shop at the north end of the village. I suspect Okuti Garden Stay is the area that used to be the Birdlands sanctuary..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the bird pendant (I don’t dare try to spell the proper name here)! It’s been literally years since I shopped at an art gallery or locally-run gift shop, thanks to the pandemic. While most of them in my town—that are still in business, anyway—are now open, their hours are very irregular, thanks to a combination of heat waves, power outages, and the resurgence of COVID. I think you are very lucky to be able to travel to these little towns and see things like the library!

    I also keep forgetting that you’re at the tail end of winter in the Southern Hemisphere, while we’re roasting/smoking to death in the last weeks of summer. I hope your spring comes soon and is seasonable: no sudden spikes in temperature, no long months of drought, and no fires!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Maori names can be a bit hard to get your tongue around, when you’re not used to them, like all unfamiliar languages 🙂 Maori words commonly get interspersed in our Kiwi English here and there. Perhaps it will get more so, as younger people get more education in the Maori language.

      Where I live, we don’t often get the extremely high temperatures like you do, but it can still get very dry over summer. A couple of years ago we had a fire in the hills surrounding us, and it was handled quite badly because it happens so irregularly. However, I expect we’ll be seeing more of it now. We don’t often get snow here, either, although it has gone from a brilliant day on Saturday to a freezing cold blast from the south yesterday and today, and it has snowed further inland.

      We keep our fingers crossed that we can continue keeping Covid away, but as pressure mounts to open the borders, it’s inevitable that Covid will come if happens.

      Liked by 1 person

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