Feed­ing the masses on the main high­way

North Waikato News - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS -

A new se­ries telling the sto­ries of peo­ple in those ev­ery day jobs.

Quiet mo­ments are rare on State High­way One at the north end of Huntly

Trucks shake the ground reg­u­larly.

And the hum of ve­hi­cles is con­stant.

But there’s some­thing that’s mak­ing many of th­ese trav­ellers take a pit stop.

As stom­achs start to grum­ble, the mo­bile food and drink out­lets couldn’t have come at a bet­ter time.

Head­ing south, Sha­ree Bower and Steve Ben­son are parked up at their Dy­na­mite Dawgs car­a­van next to the train tracks.

If the weather is be­ing kind, the Hamil­ton cou­ple in their early 50s are out there by 9am where they await their reg­u­lars and an­tic­i­pate new­bies.

The name gives it all away, hot dogs are their spe­cialty and im­ported Amer­i­can style drinks.

If you’re a fan of The Simp­sons, you’ll feel some nos­tal­gia upon see­ing the dis­tinc­tive Flam­ing Moes can.

It was about eight months ago when Ben­son set up in his lit­tle gazebo to test the wa­ters.

At that stage, Bower was work­ing the daily grind at a desk.

‘‘We de­cided to take the leap of faith and do this...the cart it­self was a bit of an ex­per­i­ment be­cause I didn’t like my of­fice job,’’ Bower said.

It worked so well, she packed in her job.

The reg­u­lar toots of sup­port through­out the day just goes to show that it’s all worth it. Truck­ies of­ten call ahead with their or­ders but their cus­tomers vary.

‘‘Be­cause we have a lot of Mus­lim driv­ers we added a chicken hot­dog.’’ Kids can be the most ‘‘dis­cern­ing’’ of them all.

The duo aren’t the only ones to re­alise the high­way’s po­ten­tial.

A few hun­dred me­tres down the road, Char­lotte Wil­son is con­stantly on the go, filling up cups of cof­fee at the back of an old am­bu­lance.

‘‘That’s why I named it Cof­fee in a Heart­beat, be­cause it matched with the theme.’’

The 25-year-old orig­i­nally set up in Tuakau about three months ago.

While the morn­ings were a rush, after­noons were slow there and she made the move to Huntly where she runs her busi­ness next to the Waikato River.

Pro­vid­ing dozens with their daily caf­feine hit fills Wil­son up with a type of joy like no other.

‘‘When you’re mak­ing them a cof­fee, and you give it to them, their mood changes. I like to make peo­ple happy ... I al­ways give a cho­co­late on top of their cup, even that does [change their mood] they’re like ‘ooh, cho­co­late’.’’

With a view of the power sta­tion, the bub­bly cof­fee con­nois­seur is also of­ten hav­ing to ex­plain its func­tion to tourists.

‘‘They’re al­ways like, what the hell is that?’’

And the van ap­pears to have be­come an at­trac­tion it­self as snaps of it are des­tined for hol­i­day photo al­bums.

Only sev­eral me­tres south is the iconic Mus­sel­man car­a­van serv­ing real ‘‘kiwi food’’.

Rain or shine, Holly Boul­ger and Tony Moniter serve their hugely pop­u­lar white­bait frit­ters, oys­ters and seafood chow­der.

Help­ing run the busi­ness is also Moniter’s mother Karen Put­wain.

The ven­ture started a few years back when Moniter needed a job. De­spite have lit­tle knowl­edge of cook­ing seafood, the cou­ple de­cided to give it a go.

‘‘Be­cause Ki­wis love mus­sels and it’s a bit dif­fer­ent...we started by cook­ing off the back of a ute,’’ he said.

Even­tu­ally they in­vested in a car­a­van and busi­ness is boom­ing.

For tourists com­ing through the main high­way, it’s an op­por­tu­nity to give them a taste of New Zealand del­i­ca­cies.

‘‘Some­times they come through and we ask where they are from and give them a taste of the oys­ters or the white­bait,’’ Boul­ger said.

As res­i­dents of the town, it means they also look after their town. Boul­ger said they’ve made friends with one el­derly man who trav­els by scooter.

After learn­ing the man was vic­tim to a bur­glary, they de­cided a cup of chow­der each week wouldn’t go amiss. ‘‘I mean, what’s a free cup of chow­der?’’


Holly Boul­ger, right, and mother in law Karen Put­wain say seafood is the ul­ti­mate kiwi food.


Char­lotte Wil­son is fairly new to the Huntly high­way but is en­joy­ing the rush.


Steve Ben­son and Sha­ree Bower are of­ten serv­ing their hot dogs to truck­ies.

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