In New Zealand, David Whitley succumbs to a Maccas with an aerial twist

I don’t get the idea that there is a time and a place for McDonald’s. Some people – even people who will usually eat good food – seem to have an occasional weakness for the golden arches. It’s seen as a dirty, naughty treat – something of a guilty secret to be indulged in, like listening to Meatloaf whilst drinking Amaretto and Coke or watching Total Wipeout in a onesie whilst making your pet cat dance.

While I can get this with Burger King (occasionally just the ticket) and I’m quite partial to a Subway or Taco Bell, the whole McDonald’s thing makes no sense to me. The burgers are consistently dreadful, even if you’re really drunk, and the rest of the food is arguably even more rank.

Even so, I was intrigued when a website called the Daily Meal published a list of the Top 10 coolest McDonald’s. Every other news site seemed to run with it.

What really surprised me, however, was that the number one coolest McDonald’s just so happened to be in the town I was driving to the next day.

I’m sure Taupo would prefer to concentrate on its gorgeous lakeside setting, adventure sports and access to the Tongariro National Park. But tough luck chaps, you’re now officially the coolest place to eat a shitty burger.

Pulling up outside the Taupo McDonald’s it’s immediately noticeable that it has a pretty impressive playground for the kids. An excellent place for them to work off a few calories from those Happy Meals. Inside, it’s relatively snazzy too – with some leather couches and alcoves in a bid to pretend it’s an acceptable alternative to a coffee shop.

But what’s really hard to avoid is the plane outside. This Macca’s has its very own Douglas D3 – built in 1943 and used to transport American troops around the South Pacific Islands during World War II. It’s not just for decoration either. Once you’ve ordered your tray of crap, you can walk through the children’s playground – trying your very best not to look like some sort of paedophile that lurks behind climbing frames – and up the ramp.

Inside the plane, chairs have been placed around fold-down tables. It’s a diner. Inside a Second World War aircraft.

You can walk through to the cockpit, where all the controls are still wired up. Panels on either side explain the history of the plane, which seems to have been owned by every tinpot airline in Australasia before being retired like an old carthorse in the 1980s.

It’s with a sense of history and amusement that I sit down with my McMuffin. It tastes horrible, of course. But for once, there is a time and place for a McDonalds.


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