Auckland is by far New Zealand’s biggest and busiest city – with many of the nation’s most important industries headquartered within its CBD. While the sheer size of Auckland compared to other places around the country might suggest that it has always been the economic hub, this isn’t actually the case. In fact, there have been plenty of different business meccas located throughout the country, and one of the most historically important is the Coromandel Peninsula.
Located just a few hours drive from Auckland, the Coromandel was once the centre of two of New Zealand’s most crucial industries – logging, and gold mining. Of the many locations scattered across the region, perhaps the most important and interesting is Thames. If you’re in Auckland for a few days and plan on escaping the metropolis for a more historic experience, the town is an absolutely golden opportunity that is not to be missed.
The drive to Thames
The trip from Auckland to Thames isn’t very long, taking roughly an hour and a half. Packed into that timeframe, is a series of landscapes that highlight some of the best natural beauty of the North Island. If you’re desperate to get there quickly, you can stick to the motorways and cut across the Hauraki plains, but for our money it’s a far nicer drive to hug the coastline and check out the Firth of Thames en route to the town.
The Firth of Thames is an enormous bay that separates the Coromandel Peninsula from the rest of the North Island. The coast is dotted with small towns that all make perfect rest stops. One of the best places for a cup of coffee and a ‘fish and chips’ lunch is Kaiaua, on the Firth’s western edge.
There are countless interesting shops to browse, and just as many delicious cafes.
The Thames experience
Once you’ve arrived in Thames, the first and foremost attraction on everyone’s mind should be to get along one of the many gold experiences. There are museums to wander through, historic buildings and mines to explore and plenty of knowledgeable guides to furnish you with a bit of information about the area. If you’re feeling lucky, you can even head to the river for a spot of panning – who knows, you might make the next big find!
Of course, there are plenty of other things to do while you’re in the Coromandel, and Thames is renowned as an artistic and crafty town. That means there are countless interesting shops to browse, and just as many delicious cafes where you can stop for a bite before hitting one of the many hiking or cycling trails through the nearby forests.
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