With Summer in full swing there's never been a better time to explore New Zealand with fresh eyes. Adventuring has become incredibly easy with smart phones, the internet, google maps, and APPs. We can research travel options, book cheap flights and accommodation for the first few nights, and everything else can be taken care of once we arrive.
The Hauraki Rail Trail offers a seemingly endless network of Grade One trails traversing a wide variety of landscapes and stunning backdrops. Choose from day or multi-day rides taking in the Shorebird Coast, quaint historic towns, lush farmlands, and the historic railway corridor through the Karangahake Gorge. Factor a little extra time for interesting detours to enjoy walking, arts, culture, local hospitality and a wealth of attractions.
Remember it's time to #backyourbackyard, and it's now more important than ever to support local businesses. We've put together a ride for Section B of the Hauraki Rail Trail, which includes a selection of our incredible Official Partners. We hope you enjoy all they have to offer as they work hard to enrich your Rail Trail experience.
Photo Credit: Serena Burton - Historic Kopu Bridge
The Māori people believed that the deep valleys cutting through the Coromandel Ranges were carved by the thrashing tail of a taniwha. This is also the place where bushmen, gum-diggers and gold miners sought their fortunes, routinely crossing over to the eastern side of the ranges on rugged bush tracks through forests of mighty Kauri. It is amidst this history that this section of trail begins, at first following the old railway line out of Thames town and onward through lush farmland with the impressive ranges a constant companion to the east.
Take the morning to explore the gold-mining heritage of Thames before heading east, travelling through verdant farmlands to Paeroa. Fascinating Māori, industrial, education and geological history converge at the Thames School of Mines, one of New Zealand’s largest and best-preserved mining schools in the heart of the Hauraki gold fields. Guided tours bring this special Heritage New Zealand site to life with captivating stories about the Hauraki area’s people and places. Thames School of Mines is an excellent venue for school or group tours, and an interesting place to start your adventures.
If you’re a lover of all things artistic, keep an eye out as you approach the Kopu Bridge, as riders are greeted by a fantastic array of sculptures. The Thames Public Art Trust has been working on the project for a few years, to bring a fresh spark to the Thames district with the series of permanent art installations. Amongst the artworks is a giant Jandal, and a six metre tall toy train, which capture the imagination and bring a new light to the coastal town.
The Matatoki Cheese Barn & Farm is a highlight, and if you love cheese, Matatoki is a must. There is also a BYO Cafe, cheese tastings, and a fabulous animal farm. The family of alpacas, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, budgies, quails, canaries and Cookie the spotty sheep offer great entertainment for the whole family.
Photo credit: Matatoki Cheese Barn - Tilley and Milly the Goats.
Paeroa's Historical Martime Park was once New Zealand’s most inland port, and the Museum has significant links dating back to pre-European settlement and the arrival of Captain James Cook in 1769 aboard HMS Endeavour.
The port was the main catalyst in the expansion of the Waihi gold mines prior to the introduction of the railway in 1905. This important collection of Maritime history relates to the role Paeroa played as a port for unloading mining machinery and equipment in the late 19th century.
Recently the Park received a $1.5 million development fund and Stage one included an upgrade of Wharf St in Paeroa, which links to the new purpose-built community jetty on the Ohinemuri River. There are three new pontoons along with a refurbished riverboat which will transport visitors from the Park along the Ohinemuri River into Paeroa.
Make sure you arrive into Paeroa early enough to fossick through the many antiques and collectables shops. World famous in New Zealand for its giant L&P bottle on the main street, there’s also accommodation and places to eat for riders looking to refuel or overnight.
Photo: The newly built Paeroa Wharf
A good option before leaving Paeroa is The Refinery Cafe. Promising Mt. Atkinson coffee, food and smiles, The Refinery is firmly set in the history of the area, with the building originally commissioned as the National Bank Gold Refinery in 1914.
Massive concrete walls, double height stud capped with huge timber beams and Rimu roof structure certainly fitted the grandeur of purpose. The large, light filled space is cosy and welcoming, with armchairs and a roaring fire over winter and rustic outdoor tables and ivy covered walls in summer.
Read a book over coffee or browse the huge collection of vinyl and put on a song or two. Free range and local produce is offered where possible and the delicious Baking is made on the premises. Choose from the selection of counter food, or the blackboard with new treats added all the time.
Photo credit: @kjbnz on Instagram (Sir Edmund Hilary Mural on the Eastern side of The Refinery Cafe, Paeroa)
The Hauraki Rail Trail showcases the best of New Zealand’s landscape, environment, culture and heritage. No matter how fast or far you want to ride, if you’re ready for an adventure there’s a great option for every rider.
You can find all Official Partner businesses for Section B below.
Paeroa Information Hub - 101 Normanby Road, Paeroa, New Zealand. Ph: 07 862 8636 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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