Firstly, starting in the middle of the map, and elevated thereto by its excellence, is my newest discovery. The Windfarm Bakery and Cafe, Woodville, make their own pies and bread, and the most exceptional Pork Spareribs rolls. These are on a fresh, soft, cheese roll, with salad and generous amount of spareribs pork, and tasty sauce. A lovely pot of green tea, and one is set up for the rest of the trip. I've stopped there twice now, and it's my new Woodville stop.
So now back to my starting point, and let's travel up the country.
For quite a few years now, my favourite first stop for refreshment after leaving Wellington, has been The Olde Plum Duff Cafe in Shannon. This has a wonderful sunny garden, with plenty of wooden benches and tables, and many is the time I've relaxed in the sun there. Excellent clean toilets with baby-changing facilities, and most importantly, all their yummy food being made on the premises. However, these hardworking people need one day off a week, and if I happen to travel through on a Monday, then I am forced to look for sustenance elsewhere. (With thanks to Kete Horowhenua for the pic)
The Horseman's Cafe is my second choice, again great food and a loo, but somewhat uneven flooring means it's a good idea to keep one's eyes on where one's walking! Outside tables in the sun and horsey things which would indicate that it is in fact, the cafe of a horseman, give it a point of interest (even for one such as me who thinks horses are way too big and their teeth positively scary...)!
Up the Island, through the Gorge, and that deserves a break. Woodville. Cafe 88 at the northern end of the town has been my stopping point for some years. It's a busy place, I've been there when tourist buses have pulled up outside and been glad I'd already got my food and a table! Again, outside tables and indoor loo make it attractive.
But as I noted earlier, I've found a replacement for 88. The Windfarm Bakery and Cafe is only a couple of doors south of 88, and for some reason seems "undiscovered". Excellent, pleasant service and fabulous food mean it probably won't stay that way for long! Public loo is only on the other side of the block.
If you can make it past Woodville, then you could feel completely justified in stopping for a cuppa at Matamau Diner, seven kilometres north of Dannevirke. I actually had to look up the name of this place, because I'd always thought of it by its banner "all day breakfasts". It's a popular truck stop, which is always a good reference for food and service, and I'd be very happy to stop here again any time. Nice friendly family people too. And of course, a loo.
Heading through Central Hawkes Bay and getting close to Hastings, there are two places definitely worth a stop. The township of Otane boasts two lovely ladies, who make a steak pie that's worth travelling there especially for! Certainly worth a detour off State Highway 2 - McCauley's Store and Cafe on Higginson St, you can't miss it!
On another trip (because you truly won't want to be enjoying all this delicious food in the time it takes you to get from Shannon or Wellington to Hastings!) you might like to stop at the Paper Mulberry Cafe, at Te Aute. Just across the Highway from the famed Te Aute College, is an old church of purplish hue, where the most delicious food, again, made on the premises can be found. You'll want to linger here - in the winter there's a lovely fire, and arts and crafts for sale adorn the walls. The whole place is eclectic and artistic, and a wonderful way to while away a few hours in the winter!
Hastings, and home. But - gosh it's almost dinner time! We've lingered over food enough today, so now we want to pick up something yummy and nourishing, quickly. Whip into Cafe Anatolia for the very best Turkish cuisine, carry it home and enjoy it with your feet up. It's been a busy day after all!
P.S. - Oh I can't leave out a mention of Benedict's at Maungaraki. Lower Hutt! I've never seen such a child-friendly place! Probably a third of the floor space is a play area for the kids, with exciting play equipment and room to run. They serve "fluffies" - frothed milk in miniature cups and saucers for the little ones, and jolly delicious cakes and other food for the big ones. A roaring fire, and room to spread out the paper or breastfeed the baby, makes this a meeting place par excellence!