Thames Travel Information
One of the romantic places in our history, Thames is built at the south-east corner of the Firth of Thames, near the estuary of two rivers, Waihou and Piako, to which in 1769 Captain Cook brought his ship Endeavour, naming one of them and the estuary after the most famous river of his homeland.
The larger river, which has now been given the Maori name Waihou, was at one time navigable by small ships, and an early settler could take a small vessel loaded with stores, not without difficulty from snags and fallen trees, into the heart of the Waikato country.
In 1867, gold was discovered and the area proclaimed a goldfield just when the Coromandel fields seemed to be played out.
The boom that followed brought in a few years, a population of about 20,000, distributed round three main claims-Shortland, Grahamstown, and Tookey's Flat-and served by more than eighty hotels.
The streets on a fine Saturday night, according to an old resident, were paraded by thousands of people, to such an extent that the footpaths (formed of kauri timber) could not accommodate the throngs and there was always a large overflow on to the main roadway which was usually deep in mud.
But the was in gold-bearing quartz reefs, not in alluvial soils, and needed heavy machinery for its exploitation.
This was beyond the financial capacity of the old do-it-yourself miner, and Thames went into decline, though it remained a gold-town into the first decade of this century.
Even today hopeful prospectors fossick in the hills, especially at weekends.
Meanwhile the three original townships had been amalgamated into a borough, whose council, still optimistic about its future, embarked on an ambitious policy of borrowing for town and harbour improvements.
The end was inevitable, and in the depression of 1932 the borough, virtually bankrupt, was placed under the control of a commission.
After World War II, though still encumbered with a debt of £277,000 Thames recovered its dignity as a borough with a council, but the way was still hard.
By 1961 the eighty hotels of the Golden Era had been reduced to thirteen, which-let not the fact be overlooked-exactly equalled the number of its churches.
Thames, with its population of a few thousand, recovered, thanks to its timber, its fishing industry, and its prospering farming background.
The Coromandel Peninsula thrusts in a northerly direction from its base line running through Thames to its extreme tip, Cape Colville, a distance as the tui flies of about fifty miles.
A road from Thames, leads up the west coast along the shores of the Firth of Thames and the Hauraki Gulf; the east coast, with many a lovely bay of which the most important is Mercury Bay, is washed by the Pacific Ocean.
The peninsula, dominated by the Coromandel range which is not very high country-nowhere more than 3,000 feet, is very rough and broken and at the coming of the European was clothed in native bush including some fine kauri.
had been discovered, and there is record of one giant 24 feet in diameter' which, from a count of annular rings, was a sapling when the Angles and Saxons invaded Britain.
was exported long before farming was established or gold
There are three main townships on the peninsula-Colville, Coromandel, and Whitianga, and many smaller centres of settlement including, Colville, fifty-three miles up the coast from Thames.
Its older name is "Cabbage Bay" for here Captain Cook in Endeavour got a supply of milk thistles which was cooked as cabbage to ward off scurvy
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