Best Eatery on the Road 2017 winner

Best Eatery on the Road 2017 winner Best Eatery on the Road 2017 winner
Best Eatery on the Road 2017 winner Best Eatery on the Road 2017 winner
Best Eatery on the Road 2017 winner Best Eatery on the Road 2017 winner

DOW catches up with the winners of the Best Eatery on the Road competition

It was a matter of all hands on deck as Duncan and Marion Klaus, along with staff spent a busy three weeks during February gathering votes in Deals on Wheels Best Eatery on the Road competition.

The big effort paid off in spades for Rangitaiki Tavern, who won the competition for the third consecutive year, narrowly (once again) beating Dunsandel Stop Shop in Canterbury by some 82 votes.

This year saw 32 eateries enter the competition, and 11 of those establishments remained in serious contention through to the end.

Now in its sixth year, the competition celebrates all the best roadside diners nationwide where truckies and contractors can stop, rest, and refuel their bodies.

Situated some 40km from Taupo on the Napier–Taupo road, the isolated Rangitaiki Tavern and truck stop is a safe haven in what can appear to be desolate countryside to the passing traveller.

Duncan and Marion’s business provides hearty meals and comfortable accommodation to many at the end of a hard day’s graft, with the large parking area getting tight on space, as truckers complete their shifts and park up for the night.

"We do feel like parents to the drivers and workers sometimes.

"They work so hard, and it’s important we have good home-cooked food ready for them at the end of a day," Marion says.

Tidy, self-contained cabins provide cost-effective accommodation for travellers or people staying in the region for work or leisure.

Their location and adjacent social facilities means the Rangitaiki Tavern is also a hub for the local community and all the more evident when snow hits the region during winter 2016.

"We were isolated from mains power for four weeks," Duncan says.

With more than 300 power poles damaged by the heavy snow, Rangitaiki Tavern’s diesel-powered generator kept the business operating.

"We had everyone based out of here and it sure was hectic.

"They brought in big generators for better reliability but the one powering our place broke down, so I cranked up my one again," Duncan says with a chuckle.

But this work is not for the faint-hearted, with the working day starting at 5am and sometimes not finishing until late at night.

"Often we’ll have a truck driver phone to say they will be in late, and I’ll make sure a meal is ready for them so they can rest up properly for the next day," Marion says.

"It’s the least we can do for all the hard work they put in."

On congratulating Rangitaki Tavern’s owners for their win, Deals on Wheels editor Randolph Covich credits the success to their positive attitude and dedication to customers.

"For us, this is what the best eateries on the road are all about.

"It’s not just somewhere to stop for a good quick feed. It’s about the whole experience.

"Duncan and Marion give a true feeling of a home away from home and must provide a sense of security to absent families knowing their loved ones are so well looked after," he says.  

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