Centrally located just an hours drive from Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga, Thames is a often described as a gateway to The Coromandel. This doesn't do the town full justice - Thames is a worthwhile destination in its own right, for the combination of old time charm coupled with some intriguing modern day experiences. While the main street resonates the glory days of gold, the town lies on the edge of the Hauraki Gulf, front row seat to stunning sunsets along the Thames Coast, lined with majestic stands of Pohutukawa. Thames is also the closest base to one of New Zealand's bucket list one day walks - The Pinnacles.
The quaint township, with the longest main street in New Zealand, is lined with bespoke retail experiences from antiques to art, distilleries to organic produce, homegrown art galleries and a classic bookstore celebrated as a destination in its own right.
For those keen to explore, Thames connects to the Hauraki Rail Trail, opening up cycle adventures across the plains to Paeroa, through the Karangahake Gorge and on to Waihi, or west to across the wild expanse of the Shorebird Coast. Mountain bike and hiking trails in the hills above the town will lead you to old mining relics and outlooks across the vastness of the firth of Thames.
With a rich heritage, the Grahamstown end of Thames set the scene of a bygone era, while local museums, schools and goldmine experiences tell the tales of those who came to town to better their lives in the golden years.
For the Kids
- The littlies will enjoy a ride on the Thames Small Gauge Railway, before heading across the road to fossic through the rocks and minerals at the Thames Rock Shop at the Thames School of Mines or a tour of the Thames Goldmine Battery
- Feed the animals at Matatoki Cheese Barn before sampling their home made Gelato and Sorbet Ice-Cream
- Grab freakshakes at the Sugar Cafe..... but the tribe might need to burn off some energy after that at the nearby playground.
Art and creativity
- The Thames art gallery at Tararu is home to stunning artwork from locals
- Jenny Mcleod Glass Gallery and The Vessel are both located in Grahamstown and will wow you with the exquisite creativity on display
Produce and Cuisine
- If you are heading up the western coast from Thames to Coromandel Town, Waiomu Beach Cafe is the perfect place to cave in for an ice cream for the kids. The cool cafe is renowned for its breakfast and lunch menu, and with items such as green eggs and smoked fish platters from Piako Pete's, even the foodie members of the family will be satisfied.
- For seafood lovers Blackbeard Smokehouse, The Wharf and Piako Pete will keep you well supplied.
- Local producers invite you to taste their offerings at the Coromandel Distilling Company, Matatoki Cheese, or Re-store, the Thames Market and the Thames Organic Shop also stocks local artisan products.
- The Sleeping God canyon will challenge even the most seasoned explorer! Abseil, rappel, jump, zip-line and slide down a series of cascading waterfalls in one of New Zealand's most beautiful and truly secret locations
- Choose your starting point and cycle your way between towns along the Hauraki Rail Trail
- Fish for tea..... head out on the firth and bag yourself some dinner. Remember only take what you need, not your bag limit.
- Discover the Scarface mountain bike tracks trails or the Hotoritori mountain bike trails in the Kauaeranga Valley
- Thames Coast Sunset - Grab some fish and chips form the wharf, find a spot and drink in a stunning sunset at a park along the coast.
- Visit Grahamstown and the eclectic array of shops and food offerings, including Little Toke, Huia, The Depot, Cafe Melbourne. Head a little further south for Antiques in Thames and Carsons Book Shop
Walks and Gardens
- A meander around Rapaura Water Gardens is sure to inspire you with the serenity of the gardens, cascading waterfalls and wildlife aplenty.
- Take a historic walk of Thames and uncover secrets of the town's grand past. Thames has retained a wealth of historical buildings from the gold-mining days thanks to limited pressures for development and local pride in the town’s history.
- Discover the Kauaeranga Valley and the Pinnacles, one of New Zealand's greatest one-day walks
- Explore the Kauri Gove in Waiomu
- Thames Museum te Whare Taonga o te Kauaeranga - From early settlement by Māori through to James Cook's visit in 1769 and the opening of the goldfield in 1867, Thames Museum depicts how people have lived and worked here over the years. Until recently, Thames was the most highly industrialised town of its size in New Zealand.
- Thames Goldmine Experience - Explore an operational 19th century Stamper Battery and venture into one of the richest goldmines of the time. Maybe you'll strike it rich!
- Thames School of Mines & Mineralogical Museum - Fascinating Māori, industrial, education and geological history converge at one of New Zealand's largest and best-preserved mining schools in what was the heart of the Hauraki gold fields. This is where the miners came to learn how to mine, (yes, there's more to it than digging) in the hope of making their fortunes. Gold discoveries on 'The Thames' created the town of Thames.
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