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Paeroa is a small town in New Zealand, in the northern Waikato region of the Thames Valley. Located at the foot of the Coromandel Peninsula, it is close to the junction of the Waihou and Ohinemuri Rivers, 20 kilometres from the coast at the Firth of Thames. The population is 3900.

Paeroa is known for its mineral springs which provide the water used in a local soft drink which has become a New Zealand favourite, Lemon & Paeroa.

Contents

History

The Lemon and Paeroa Bottle

Captain James Cook explored the Waihou River in 1779, taking a long-boat up as far as Netherton, just a couple of miles from where the town of Paeroa was built 100 years on.

The area was briefly explored in October 1826 by Captain James Herd, in command of the Lambton and the Isabella (or Rosanna). Herd was sent on an exploratory mission by the first organisation to be known as the New Zealand Company and claimed to have bought one million acres (4000 km²) of land from local Māori in Hokianga and Manukau.[1]

By 1869, anticipating the rush to the Ohinemuri Goldfields, considerable numbers of miners camped at Cashell’s Landing "Puke".

In 1870, Asher Casserels, a Lithuanian, leased the block of land known as Paeroa from Māori. This included Primrose Hill and most of what is now the town centre.

When James Mackay (surveyor) and Sir David McLean (Minister of Mines) completed negotiations six years later with the Māori Chiefs, Tukukino and Taraia, the fields were declared open. Six hundred miners rushed to Karangahake, considered to be the El Dorado, on March 3, 1875. A canvas town of 1,600 people with about 20 stores and grog shops set the area going. The big gold reefs like Talisman and Crown were discovered but proved hard to work. Heavy machinery required for hard quartz mining had to be brought via the Waihou River and up to Paeroa. The river was the only highway and with two shipping companies in operation, Paeroa became a thriving transport and distribution centre.

When the Northern Steamship Company combined with its opposition, the wharves from near the Bank of New Zealand (Wharf Street) had to be shifted two miles (3 km) downstream in 1892, and eventually to just below Puke Bridge due to the silting from mining operations. A busy freight business developed with four ships regularly running from Auckland to Thames to Paeroa. The Thames Branch railway line reached the town in 1881 and gradually ships gave way to steam, which in turn gave way to road transport.

When Brenan and Company, the largest horse and wagon operator, moved to trucking, they bought out the steamship company and named their trucks after the ships that plied the Puke River. Waimarie and Taniwha were always painted on the new International or Ford trucks that came into their fleet. When transport operator Sarjant’s amalgamated with Brenan, a large truck centre evolved in Paeroa.

As the passenger rail service dwindled, Paeroa eventually lost its railway, so much of the town had its beginnings in supply and transport to the Hauraki and District. The swings of time have enabled the town to boom and revert a number of times.

National Bank Gold Refinery

The old gold refinery seen in 2007

A historic Paeroa building, in the town centre, is the former National Bank of New Zealand's gold refinery, built in 1914

in Willoughby Street. The building is now a private home and business, hidden from street level view by a ponga fence.

In 1911 the National Bank formed joint venture with the New Zealand Mining Trust and the bank purchased a section with a 97 ft (30 m) frontage by 125 ft (38 m) deep in Arthur Street (now Willoughby Street) for 200 pounds.

By February, 1914, a Ferro-cement building 80 ft (24 m) by 40 ft (12 m), with an iron roof and a 40 ft (12 m) tall smokestack was completed. Inside was the main refining chamber, two assay office, weighting room, accounting room, engine and dynamo rooms, two officers' bedrooms, sitting room and bathroom. Detached from the main building was a store room and coal hopper.

Location

At the intersection of State Highways 2 and 26, Paeroa is the central service location for the Hauraki District with the town being a midway stop for those travelling between Auckland and Tauranga/Rotorua. About half way between Auckland and Tauranga, Paeroa is also the southern gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula, the eastern gateway to the Bay of Plenty and the Karangahake Gorge. More recently Paeroa has been the base for many adventurers in and around the Coromandel/Waikato area.

Local attractions

Whilst Paeroa is home to New Zealand’s very own soft drink, ‘Lemon and Paeroa’(Started in 1907), Paeroa is also famous for a variety of beautiful locations, attractions, events and boasts about 20 antique & secondhand stores.

Attractions include bush, river and town walks, an historic Maritime Park, a full golf course and the Maritime Museum, together with the antiques and collectibles trail, and arts and crafts outlets are among other notable local features.

Paeroa has a beautiful public domain, located just a few metres from the main street, which is a haven for many mature specimen trees and host to a variety of sporting events.

Horse racing is held throughout the year at the Paeroa Racecourse, and hunting, shooting and fishing are available in season.

The town’s main street offers a full range of retail outlets for the visitor or passing motorist – antiques, collectibles, secondhand goods, plus a full range of retailers, restaurants and cafes.

Primrose Hill provides stunning vistas of the surrounding district.

Development of the Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway began when the Paeroa to Waihi railway line was closed in 1979. The track follows the old railway formation including a 1 km tunnel, and passes several important historical features.

The Ohinemuri River flows through the Gorge and good swimming areas and picnicking sites are easily accessed. For the more adventurous, walking tracks lead into the Kaimai-Mamaku and Coromandel Forest Parks (maps are available from the Paeroa Information Centre).

The four way road access in Paeroa is unique in giving visitors a varied choice of travelling via hills, coast or bush.

Events

Paeroa is known as the Events Capital of the Coromandel, as well as having a national reputation for horseracing. February is a busy event month in Paeroa and the motorcycle race ‘Battle of the Streets’ and ‘Pipe Band Tattoo’ events both attract participants and crowds from all over New Zealand and overseas.

Sporting Paeroa

Paeroa is well served with community facilities and the public domain, located just a few metres from the main street, provides excellent sporting facilities for many sporting codes such as rugby, netball, athletics and croquet. Paeroa is also home to New Zealand’s world champion netball coach, Ruth Aitken. There are many other sporting facilities located within Paeroa including two club rugby fields, soccer, Pony Club, lawn bowls, squash, tennis courts, an 18 hole golf course and the recently upgraded swimming facility.

Another facility that Paeroa is justly proud of is its Racecourse, boasting the only double-hill steeplechase track outside of Auckland. Set at the base of the Coromandel range, the course offers excellent on-course facilities and magnificent rural vistas.

Trout fishing is a popular past-time in Paeroa. The Ohinemuri, Komata, Maratoto Streams all provide trout and present a challenge to the most ardent angler.

Visitor information

Visitors to Paeroa can enquire at the Information Centre, located at the northern end of town in the L&P Cafe (Across the road from its previous location), for details of local attractions and events – phone +64-7-862-8636.

References

  1. ^ Patricia Burns (1989). Fatal Success: A History of the New Zealand Company. Heinemann Reed. ISBN 0-7900-0011-3.  

External links

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