Ohingaiti is not even village-sized these days. It is just a small place on the landscape where the hustle and bustle has gone.

On State Highway 1, 78km north of Whanganui between Hunterville and Mangaweka, a few residents live either side of the railway tracks.

There is an engineering shop, the old Ohingaiti pub is now a sparkling truckstop and diner and the Rangatira Golf Club is still touted as one of the most picturesque in New Zealand.

According to a recent book - Ohingaiti by Feilding author Irene Collins - until the mid-1800s, the area was dense bush and difficult terrain.

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The construction of the Main Trunk Line reached Ohingaiti only when the Makohine viaduct was completed in 1902, and the little settlement flourished until the 1960s.

The bank, post office and school have all since closed but the hotel still operates.

The pub, now a truckies' diner, is owned by Charmaine Dupre, and is becoming a "must" for truck drivers transporting freight from Auckland to the Cook Strait Ferries. These travelling boys know the importance of a good feed at a sparkling clean, fresh food diner.

Hamilton driver Lawrence Purchase drives to and from Hamilton every day, every week - the ultimate roadie.

Stopping off in Ohingaiti, he said the word was out among the trucking fraternity that this was the place to pull over and eat.

"Food is beautiful, lovely clean place; only shame is you can't park right outside."

Charmaine said buying the old pub had been wonderful but also extremely hard work.

"Getting it up to scratch and my standard was hard going."

She has installed a CB radio so truckies can call through an hour before their arrival and order their food.

Across the road is Advance Spreaders, an engineering workshop that builds farming fertiliser equipment.

Worker Ron Endt said, though he lives in Taihape, travelling to Ohingaiti each day was a breeze.

"And I love working here - it's a beautiful rural area. What's not to like? Looking over at the Rangitkei River cliffs every day I find amazing."

Bill and Janet Parkes have lived in Ohingaiti "only" since the early 1990s, having carefully built their home on the hill to capture all the glorious views of the cliffs and trees across the Rangitikei River.

They are the parents of rugby-playing son Hadleigh, who made his debut for Wales in a 24-22 win over the Springboks in December after three years playing for Llanelli club Scarlets.

"He's worked hard and we're very proud of him."

The couple say living on the hills behind Ohingaiti is very peaceful and they were pleased they had made that choice.

Ohingaiti was a base for rail workers when the Makohine Viaduct was being constructed. Irene Collins remembers when it had five schools and three or four balls each year.

"I used to work at the general store there. We had some good times and there was a great line of businesses down the main road," she said.

"All the farms were amalgamated, of course. The holdings were too small and neighbours bought out neighbours and so forth."

The last school, Ohingaiti Primary, closed in 2002 and a 125th reunion is being planned for October.

The Rangatira golf course is 8km south on State Highway 1 and is touted as a must for every travelling golfer. The 18-hole course is set over three terraces with lovely drives down on to each level. There's a cable car between two of the levels. Tree-lined fairways make it interesting and most of the greens carry slope to keep you honest.

It enjoys amazing views of the river and surrounding farmland - a superb place on a sunny day, say regular golfers.

At the golf club was Russell Florence, who has lived in the area the longest.

"I'm 77 years old and have lived here all my life. I used to farm, and I never really got round to leaving. I don't think I wanted to live anywhere else, really."

Russell stood up and pointed to hills in the distance beyond the viaduct.

"See those ... they're mine."