Spent a week in this once-mighty now quiet little town at the mouth of the Patea River--site of the first hydroelectric dam in new zealand and once the largest cheese-shipping port in the world (if only for a year!) Its a lovely trip over rolling farmlands dropping off cliffs into the tasman sea south of surf highway 45 and the main village of hawera, 27 km to the north to a town still showing signs of economic shock from the closing of its last industry (a huge, crumbling, fire-ravaged "freezing-works") shuttered in the 1980s. the beautiful setting and the relatively affordable old "character homes" and commercial spaces are nonetheless showing signs of new life as new owners and original families slowly reanimate the scene. The Masonic Tavern on the far end of town from the rental house my friend Tony and I were re-habbing, proved a welcome venue not only for a hearty pull of Steinlager or Tui's from the practiced hand of owner Peter Read, but a great spot for a bar-top or "takeaway" meal expertly and quickly prepared by his energetic and lovely wife Lilia; locals from the area gravitate here for the good company as well as Lilia's cooking--the Masonic boasts a formal dining room in addition to the only "off-licence" store in town. We feel lucky to have been so well-cared for during our stay--stop by for a meal or a pint in a friendly atmosphere (from karaoke to backyard fireworks to fresh yellowtail)...you might decide to stay awhile!
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