Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – New Zealand chapter on Coromandel Peninsula has to say about Thames:
“The Coromandel Peninsula juts into the Pacific east of Auckland. Although relatively close to the metropolis, the Coromandel offers easy access to splendid isolation. Its dramatic, mountainous spine bisects it into two very distinct parts.
The east coast has some of the North Island’s best white-sand beaches. When Auckland shuts up shop for Christmas/ New Year, this is where it heads. The cutesy historic gold-mining towns on the west side escape the worst of the influx, their muddy wetlands and picturesque stony bays holding less appeal for the masses.
Dinky wooden buildings from the 19th-century gold rush still dominate Thames, but grizzly prospectors have long been replaced by alternative lifestylers. If you’re a vegetarian ecowarrior you’ll feel right at home. It’s a good base for tramping or canyoning in the nearby Kauaeranga Valley.
Captain Cook arrived here in 1769, naming the Waihou River the ‘Thames’ ‘on account of its bearing some resemblance to that river in England’; you may well think otherwise. This area belonged to Ngati Maru, a tribe of Tainui descent. Their spectacular meetinghouse, Hotunui (1878), holds pride of place in the Auckland Museum.
After opening Thames to gold-miners in 1867, Ngati Maru were swamped by 10,000 European settlers within a year. When the initial boom turned to bust, a dubious system of government advances resulted in Maori debt and forced land sales.”
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
Thames was just a stopping off place for us after the long drive through Auckland’s gridlock and then around the bottom of the Firth of Thames. We would have liked to drive around the peninsula, but we read that it was pretty slow going and we wanted to spend some time enjoying Hot Water Beach.
Besides, we had booked our train trip on the Northern Explorer from Auckland to Wellington and we wanted to ensure that we were back in Auckland to catch it on Feb 21st.