Thames is nestled in between the peaks of the Coromandel Forest Park and lapping waters of the Firth of Thames. Browse this coastal settlement, once the second-largest town in New Zealand, to explore the country’s gold mining history.
Get a feel for the origins of Thames by visiting the Goldmine Experience, where volunteers will guide you through the gritty existence of early miners. The Thames School of Mines and Mineralogical Museum shows the science behind early mining and has a large mineral display.
Take a canyoning trip to Sleeping God Canyon. The expert guides at CanyoNZ will guide you through abseils, rappels, jumps and slides that will see you drop down vertically almost 1,000 feet (300 meters) through mind-blowing scenery.
Thames has mellowed from its gold rush days and these days provides a tranquil, artistic atmosphere. Discover this creative side in the town’s fascinating art and craft galleries. Purchase some artworks as a souvenir or just marvel at the skill and imagination required to produce these hand-made pieces.
Take a dip in Hoffman’s Pool or hike up to Edward’s Lookout for stunning views over the forest in the Kauaeranga Valley. For the more intrepid tramper, as Kiwis call a hiker, a trek to The Pinnacles and sleeping in a hut near the top is highly recommended.
Explore the rugged coast to the north of town driving along the winding, scenic coastal road to Coromandel Town. Stop off at the lookout points to gaze down on the dotted emerald islands and secluded bays below. Visit in the summer months to see the pōhutukawa trees come alive with masses of red flowers all along the roadside.
Finish by heading to the northern end of Thames, a colonial district that was once Grahamstown and still goes by that name today. Relax in one of its atmospheric cafés and catch the delightful Grahamstown Markets on a Saturday.
Thames is part of the scenic Coromandel Peninsula and is just 1.5 hours from Auckland by car. As a relaxing coastal town in an area where nature demands to be noticed, a visit to Thames still feels like striking gold.