After 20 years and thousands of hours behind the wheel, Pieter Fakkers has called it quits on his bus service between Dargaville and Auckland.
The Auckland-based owner and sole driver of Main Coachline made his last trip on June 30 following a fond farewell from the Dargaville community.
Pieter, 72, was known for going the extra mile to provide a personal service - not only picking up and dropping freight and passengers en-route, but disembarking children at school boarding hostels and also going to the Auckland airport to pick up north-bound travellers.
"I enjoyed meeting people - new ones and, of course, seeing my regular customers each week - every trip was a highlight," he says.
Pieter emigrated to New Zealand 27 years ago from Holland, where he had met and married his Kiwi wife Audrey.
With him clocking up kilometres on his six-day service and Audrey managing bookings there had been little time for a trip back to Rotterdam, but now the business has closed they will soon be jetting off for a reunion with his Dutch family.
"We are also planning on seeing a lot more of New Zealand," said Pieter, who plans to convert his passenger van into a mobile camper.
Following a health issue a year or so back, he put the business on the market, but with no buyer stepping up, he decided it was time to pull the plug.
"My health is perfect now, but it is just time to kick back and enjoy life," he said.
Around 80 people attended the Fakkers' farewell at the Kaipara Vintage Machinery Club, many of them saddened to lose the service. Joanne Williams thanked Pieter for the personal care he had given her son - a regular commuter - who is confined to a wheelchair.
Motel owner James Brackenbury commented on the airport to door service tourists enjoyed and florist Gloria Seymour said she appreciated his flower deliveries between Dargaville and Maungaturoto and from the Auckland markets.
Dargaville travellers - including six children who attend boarding schools - will now have to go to Whangarei to catch buses to Auckland.
And Mrs Seymour said there was now no same-day delivery service between Dargaville and Maungaturoto. A courier goes as far as Ruawai, but for Matakohe, Paparoa and Maungaturorto freight has to go via Whangarei."
A temporary arrangement has been made for her flower deliveries, but it will not be available during school holidays.