Out and about on the main road in central Hawke’s Bay, you’ll come across the inland rural town of Waipawa, founded along the banks of the Waipawa river. And in this classic rural environment, home to many sheep and cattle farms, there’s a delightful cafe with a spot on rural farmhouse feel.
You know you’ve hit the mark when a local on the sidewalk is ushering you in, recommending the lamb… In this charming spot, with flowers on wooden tables, and pretty vintage style floral painted crockery, you’ll find some excellent local hospitality on offer. (And a good cheese scone - just like Nola made - and coffee too!)
Cheese scone aside, we’d agree, the lamb sounded very fine…. Slow roasted, from an exotic flock at nearby Wimbledon, served with salad and pan fried potatoes. Scanning the menu some more… Baked potatoes. Eggs on toast. Fritters. Waffles. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?
Now, a little more on Nola…
And the best bit. Read the Ode to Nola. It’s awesome. Some snippets… Nola was a reluctant housewife. A teacher who worked in Herbertville, she was overwhelmed by a handsome young farmer at Wimbledon. This was post war time, in the land of scones, meat (usually mutton), three veg, followed by seasonal fruit and a crusty sponge. Good food cooked with love. And she pushed the boundaries. Modern dressings rather than condensed milk and vinegar. Good on her… there’s a lot to be said for pushing boundaries!
So it’s no surprise Nola’s the inspiration behind this cafe, she’s the owner’s mum - and she’d be bursting with pride at her legacy. That farmhouse spirit comes through abundantly here - right down to the blackboard sign highlighting the next locals’ night.
More good things to do
And there are other good things to do here in Waipawa…
Just a little way up the road you’ll find a treat of a New Zealand food store, with a fine selection of New Zealand offerings and home made bread and pies on show. There’s the chance to chat with the transplanted and very friendly former Aucklander proprietor, and to admire more of this rural spot’s heritage. Here you’re in a former stock agents’ office, explaining the old vault for farmers’ cash supplies.
A little further up the road, a deservedly famous butcher. There’s an eye popping display of delicious meat products… Murray’s famous beef sausages, Murray’s famous chipoltas…. And another excellent local story - all the beef and lamb in the butchery is finished on Patangata Station, just 15 kilometres away from the shop.
And here’s something we were inspired to return to, back at base, with some of that excellent local lamb, combined with some Hawke’s Bay olives… our lamb and olive idea… Here’s to more happy memories of central Hawke’s Bay!
One last good thing to do… to soak up a little more of this region’s vibe. How about checking out Central Hawke’s Bay Settlers’ Museum, housed in the historic Bank of New Zealand building, with an interesting collection to explore, all just across the road from these lovely food stops.
Your road trip companion….
To find more on The FoodPath NZ’s handpicked eateries and food producers, for our collection of spot on New Zealand food moments to check out on your next New Zealand trip, including these Waipawa treasures, download The FoodPath NZ’s app here.