Our camping buddies at Mt Lees Reserve (from the Levin Caravan Club) were planning a lunch out on Saturday and asked the four of us if we would like to go too. It was kind of them to include us in their plans, and we only needed asking once, I can tell you. Luckily the organiser phoned ahead to warn the cafe that 14 hungry caravanners were on the way. That caused a bit of a panic, and extra reinforcements were rostered on to cope with the influx. We pooled cars and drove up the aptly named Kimbolton Road, arriving at Hansen’s Cafe and Bar.
“Mine Host” Steve was a happy chappy, and in the way of small communities, knows our son-in-law Robert quite well. We perused the menu, made our choices, and the kitchen staff got busy cooking. The meals were very tasty, and ranged from fish, chicken, steak, and for the adventurous, lambs fry and bacon.
The building was originally a general store, and there are many old photos from years gone by on display around the cafe. Kimbolton was originally known as Fowlers, then Birmingham, we were told, before the name was changed to Kimbolton, named after the English village which is the site of Kimbolton Castle, once the home of the Duke of Manchester.
Fed and watered, we climbed back into the cars to explore a bit more of the Manawatu. Heading north, we continued along the road till we reached the small rural town of Apiti – meaning “gorge” in Maori — an accurate description of the high hills and intersecting gullies of this little township. There was a wedding party in the hotel we noticed – the clue was several big black cars adorned with ribbons, as well as a bunch of bikers hanging about outside. Perhaps they were the guests of honour?
We then travelled along Main South Road to Rangiwahia which has recently been sealed. The biggest change that we noticed is that the school has disappeared – it obviously had closed down since our last visit and all the buildings must have been removed and sold. We had previously stayed here at the Domain and thought the other campers might like to check it out for future reference.
Rangiwahia means “piercing the sky” or “opening in the heavens”. Originally the site of Rangiwahia was a natural clearing of about 100 acres amongst the tall native trees. After the surveyors finished the task of surveying the land in 1885 into 100 and 200 acre sections, the settlers arrived and began clearing the land, cutting down the giant forest trees to build houses and fences. The area became a busy bustling village with three churches, a butter factory, saddlery, blacksmith, a school, and boarding houses. Things are not nearly so busy and bustling these days, but the reasonably priced overnight camping area brings in a steady stream of travellers.
As we headed back to camp we stopped at the Apiti Lookout, with lovely views across the rolling farm land.
One last stop – to buy some freshly dug potatoes. We have driven past this place many times and did not know that they sold to the public, but one of our group had heard a whisper that this was the place to come to. At only $5 a bag in the honesty box, it was a bargain.
Then it was back to our caravans at Mt Lees Reserve, just in time for Happy Hour. It had been a great 3 day weekend staying there, and we appreciated the Levin Caravan Club members including us in their activities.