Thames

Thames is an old gold mining town on the west coast of the Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island of New Zealand. Thames has a rich history and is the great place to start any visit to the Coromandel Pensinsula.

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Thames is a coastal settlement, close to the mouths of the Kauaeranga and Waihou Rivers. Behind the town, the ancient volcanic Coromandel Ranges rise steeply to provide a picturesque green backdrop.

The northern end of Thames, known still as Grahamstown, offers cafés and boutique shops in a charming, colonial setting. Be sure to visit the museum, which covers early Maori times, the arrival of the first pioneers and the development of mining, logging, railways and shipping. You can also visit the School of Mines, which is open from Wednesday to Saturday.

Often called the gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula, Thames makes a great base for travellers. The magnificent Kauaeranga Valley hiking and camping area is just to the south, and the road to the north follows the coast past scores of sandy beaches.

Most of the town occupies a narrow coastal strip of flat land at the western base of the Coromandel Range. On the south the country opens to the wide expanse of the Hauraki Plain. The main farming activities of the district are sheep and cattle raising, dairying, market gardening and fruitgrowing.

The Thames district was settled by the Ngāti Maru tribe . On 16 November 1769 Captain James Cook in his ship Endeavour cast anchor off Tararu Point, about 3km north-west of the present town, and made a short excursion on the Waihou River by ship’s boat. In 1870 the Caledonian mine in just over a year produced 140,000 ounces (3,969 kilograms) of bullion (silver and gold). At the peak of the rush in 1868, 18,000 people were living in Thames.

  • Thames Information Centre, 206 Pollen St, +64 7 8687284, fax: +64 7 8687584. They offer free, friendly, unbiased information to visitors and locals alike. They can assist with general enquiries, accommodation, transport, attractions and activities. The staff are experts in the local area but also very knowledgeable about the whole Coromandel Peninsula and other NZ regions. 

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