If you ever want to travel off the beaten track, Awakino is the perfect place - somewhere far more than the middle of nowhere to everyone who lives there.

A recent trip to the southwest Waikato by the Herald discovered there's much more than meets the eye beside the Awakino River.

Your map and first impressions might disagree, but for the eight full-time residents who live there it's a gem hidden in plain sight.

A general view of Awakino on the west coast of the North Island. Photo / Alan Gibson
A general view of Awakino on the west coast of the North Island. Photo / Alan Gibson

Mark Sheppard moved down from Auckland in 2017 and wished it was something he did years ago.

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"I was a bus driver in Auckland, so this is nice you know?" Sheppard said while enjoying a beer outside his home.

"Three streets, no more super-city traffic and rates, people have got time to talk."

The rustic settlement is often overlooked by motorists driving to and from Taranaki but the laidback lifestyle by the roaring Tasman Sea offers plenty.

Whitebait stands are dotted along the Awakino River and even the local pub, the Awakino Hotel, has a stand which guests are invited to use.

Mark Shepherd and Winnie the Maltese Cross enjoy a beer together. Photo / Alan Gibson
Mark Shepherd and Winnie the Maltese Cross enjoy a beer together. Photo / Alan Gibson

"The whitebaiting is very good, the pub has actually got its own whitebait stand and we offer its use to guests," owner John Jeffares said.

"We're one of the last country pubs around, they're sort of a dying breed."

So, if you're after a bit of peace and quiet, maybe a cold beer with a few whitebait fritters, set your course for the coastal settlement of Awakino.

A whitebaiter sets his net in the first light of day on the Awakino River.
A whitebaiter sets his net in the first light of day on the Awakino River.

Awakino is located about 80km southwest of Te Kūiti and about 100km northeast of New Plymouth on the banks of the Awakino River.

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