As lunches go, a whitebait sandwich and a beer in Takaka wasn’t a bad way to refuel on our trip to the uppermost areas of the Nelson region. However, what made this particular stop most memorable was the character of the pub in which we chose to find sustenance. Whilst waiting for our whitebait sandwiches to be made, we took a walk around the Junction Hotel Takaka, in which very little has changed for several decades.
The central point of the marvellous dining room was a depiction of an idealised Māori scene, flanked by round mirrors, whilst other areas (like the gambling room) were equally untouched by any hint of renovation. All of this made much more sense months later, when I heard a National Radio programme about this delightful local institution, which was occasioned by the fact that the Junction Hotel was due to close down (due in part to changes in drinking behaviour caused by new liquor licensing laws). In the National programme, the publican, Nola Drummond, commented especially upon the fact that almost nothing had been altered since the early days of their tenure, as well as communicating the pride that went into making and running such an establishment.