Feeding the masses on the main highway
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.