ArchitectureLittle River is a rambling structure, which from some vantage points resembles more a country hall than a railway station. It began as a simple Vogel Gable station and its present appearance is the result of some obvious additions. The building is clad on different elevations with both shiplap and rusticated weatherboards, further testimony to the building's alterations. The very wide corrugated-iron roof extends out well beyond its post supports on the former platform elevation. There is another verandah on the road elevation sheltering the entrance porch. The original sash windows have been augmented by a number of large and small single-pane and casement windows. These windows give the building an almost domestic appearance. From the platform elevation, the interior layout consisted of a waiting room, ticket lobby, mum office arid Post Office. The principal additions were the Post Office public lobby (1914) appended to the road elevation, and the two verandahs.
HistoryThe Lincoln-Little River railway, the branch line to Banks Peninsula, opened on 11 March 1886, the same year that Little River station building was completed. A. Swanston, the contractor, also constructed the formation and laid the track. Two years later, on 24 February 1888, a locomotive built by Scott Brothers of Christchurch made the journey to Little River. The station was closely associated with its postal function and on some plans the building was named Railway and Post Office Building. Additions to the building included, at a cost of £130, a public lobby for the Post Office in 1914. In 1928 postal and railway duties were separated and the Post Office leased space from Railways. The Post Office moved to the township in 1938. Falling patronage saw the line close to passenger traffic in 1951 completely in 1962. In 1964 the building was bought by Wairewa County Council and used as the county offices until 1989. Today the building is used as an information centre and craft shop.
Architectural SignificanceLittle River may not look like a Vogel Gable station, but it soon betrays its origins under closer scrutiny. Despite the additions it is a fine chronicle of the typical changes that a station can undergo. Although without its track, the platform elevation could not be anything other than that of a station. Little River remains an important and rare example of a Vogel Gable station.
Historical SignificanceLittle River is a rare survivor of a railway that closed 40 years ago: the building has continued to have a viable use long after it ceased to function as a station. It was the terminus of a branch line that was the gateway to the rest of the peninsula. But it was also an early casualty of a fundamental change in transport usage. It is a tangible reminder of a minor district line.
Town / Landscape ValueThe station building has a relatively modest impact on tiny Little River, but it sits well in this semi-rural locality.