It's a rural cafe in tiny Upokongaro about 12km from Whanganui.

And it's up there and beyond most of the city cafes.

Owner Cheryl Phasey is quietly proud of her lovingly restored old cafe 4Forty4 with its fine wooden floors, several appealing dining spaces, even including a tucked-away library section with shelves of books and an old oak table.

Outside the grounds have been landscaped with gardens, decks and nooks, each corner a treasure of outdoor dining.


Cheryl is at the helm with a chef and staff working out of a bright and airy kitchen.
After seven years of building up the business she admits that word of mouth has meant several community groups getting together is a weekly event.

An exciting find in the garden a few years ago delighted Cheryl and partner Warren.
They discovered a rare bird perching in a tree.

"We found out by experts that we had a nankeen living in one of our trees."
The nankeen (night heron) also commonly referred to as the rufous night heron, is a medium-sized heron. It is found in Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, and throughout much of Australia except the arid inland, and a small colony has now established near Wanganui.

"It stays around for a while then heads back up the river to Jerusalem. We were amazed and thrilled. It's got a really strange call - bit like a croak."

And the small riverboat MV Wairua which boasts the youngest skipper in the country - 23-year-old Sam Mordey - calls in regularly.

Sam had said earlier that though that's young to own a riverboat it was "kind of a strange thing to own at any age".

The MV Wairua is booked with short trips such as its dinner and lunch cruises to Upokongaro and Cafe 4forty4.

Cheryl said with tourists coming in regularly either by boat or bus she always ensures the food is top notch.


The menu caters for all tastes and the coffee machine is always steaming, she said.
The yesteryear atmosphere is lit by art deco original lights brought from the old Wellington Museum.

"Old furniture and fittings have always fascinated me."

Even the ladies' in the garden is the old donko (morning tea room) from the former nurses' home at Wellington Hospital. Any weekend groups need book these days, she said.

"We've become a popular venue and being rural helps."

Brisk business has meant the cafe can now close for July so Cheryl can take a break.
"And warm weather here we come. A holiday will be fantastic."