CHBTakapauBus1.JPG Takapau rolled out the welcome mat - and brought out the chocolate biscuits - to celebrate the first official stop by the InterCity bus at the new bus stop. PHOTOS / JACKIE LOWRY PHOTOGRAPHY CHBTakapauBus2.JPG The first passengers aboard - residents and dignitaries - took a spin round the block. CHBTakapauBus3.JPG The mayor on the bus goes "You did it, Takapau!"

There was a crowd at the Takapau bus stop recently, and they were definitely waiting for the bus.

They'd been waiting a couple of years, so it was no surprise that the bus was greeted with a huge welcome sign, morning tea, a blessing and a speech from the mayor.

Takapau lost its InterCity bus stop two years ago, after the State Highway 2 stop was deemed dangerous.

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At the time, InterCity declined to reinstate the bus stop to the town's centre, as it was considered time consuming and also dangerous for buses to turn in and out of the small town's streets from the highway. This left Takapau's bus travellers having to catch their bus in Norsewood or Waipukurau, which was difficult for those who didn't drive.

So Takapau's residents decided to fight for their community, and when they felt they weren't making any headway they brought in the big guns ... Fair Go.

Not long after, Intercity announced negotiations were under way, and earlier this month the first InterCity bus rolled into Takapau, to a warm welcome from a delighted community.

The bus had delivered InterCity general manager NZ Coachlines Sam Peate, who said he didn't often attend openings of bus stops, but this one was "something special".

"Up until this morning InterCity serviced 600 small towns and communities throughout New Zealand," he said. "As of this morning it is 601."

He thanked the community for the warm welcome and all their hard work and said InterCity couldn't survive without the support off communities like Takapau.

Takapau resident Huia Borrell said the welcome was "off the hook" and that it was the joining of everybody present - the council, the community, local businesses and kaumatua and more - that got the project past the post.

Residents at the event spoke of how having the bus stop in town will change their lives, from the older generation who no longer drove, to families with children at university, all of whom can now travel easily to Palmerston North, Waipukurau and beyond.

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Many were eagerly planning their first trips at the event. But first it was "all aboard" for the launch of the bus service, and it was a happy bus-load of passengers who clambered in for a ride and a joyous few verses of The Wheels on the Bus!