ArchitectureArthur's Pass, an island-platform station, is an A-framed building with flat verandahs on both main elevations. The steep roofs are clad with long-run iron and punctuated at both ends by dormer windows, also A-frame. The building walls are constructed of rubble rock and mortar, and the gable-end window framing is steel. The gable ends are entirely glazed, while the gable bargeboards have a waved pattern - the only decoration on the building. When built, the station incorporated an office, waiting room, signals and communication room, and standby generator.
HistoryThe Midland line reached Arthur's Pass in July 1914 and the first station building, a Troup B/C or gable station, was built the same year. The provision of an efficient form of transport from Christchurch to "the Pass" encouraged many excursionists to the mountains - the only alternative was a difficult trip by car or stagecoach. The building of the railway and the burgeoning number of visitors, many souveniring alpine plants for their gardens, eventually led to the establishment of the Arthur's Pass National Park in 1929. The first station building did not last very long, as the opening of the Otira Tunnel and the completion of the Midland line required more yard and station accommodation. The new building, some distance from the previous one, was completed about 1923. The island platform was to accommodate both express trains and excursion traffic. This building itself lasted just 40 years as fire destroyed it in 1963. The present structure was completed in 1966. Since 1986 the station has been open for passengers and for operating purposes only; until 199x it was the eastern terminal for the short electrified section of railway from Otira. It is now largely unused but passengers on the TranzAlpine express continue to use the platform.
Architectural SignificanceArthur's Pass is a fine piece of Modern station architecture specifically designed to complement its environment. It displays an imaginative use of the then-vogue A-frame design, an evocation of European alpine architecture. The use of rubble-rock walls and generous window space creates a pleasing appearance that complements the building's purpose.
Historical SignificanceArthur's Pass was for some years the railhead of the Midland line and this, the third building to carry the name, shows the changes that the alpine village station has undergone. Like Springfield, a fire afforded an opportunity to provide a new station and this station exemplifies a new approach to station design. Arthur's Pass has for many years been the destination for both summer and winter tourists from both sides of the Alps and remains one of the highlights of the TranzAlpine express route.
Town / Landscape ValueThere are few New Zealand railway stations with a better setting than Arthur's Pass, an alpine village encircled by mountain peaks. The station building is designed to blend with its scenery.