History Tour: Tauranga

Possessed by a need to get out of Auckland I took a week-long trip to Tauranga in the holidays.  Unfortunately Zadok was playing up and I could hear the CV joints as soon as I crossed the Bombay Hills.

tn_IMG_2888My first stop was Waihi.  Here you can see the old pump house (above) and the mine itself.  There is nothing else there except for a roundabout.

tn_IMG_2891From here I went on to Athenree.  It’s only open on the last Sunday of the month so I was lucky to get in.

tn_IMG_2892This was the home of Captain and Lady Adela Stewart near Katikati, the world’s only planned Irish settlement.  Lady Adela Stewart left one of the most complete records of any pioneer wife so I was keen to visit.  The building had become derelict after the 1950s and restoration meant replacing much of the house.  It looks ok, but it’s definitely not original.  Worth a look if you are passing through.

I had planned on going to visit the Kaimai Ranges but the weather put a stop to that.  I stayed one night in Katikati at ‘Our Little Paradise’ – a backpacker farmstay a few km out of town.  A real family operation if you like that sort of thing.  Obviously Zadok liked it because the next morning he wouldn’t start!  This is where the battery in the boot design of the Mini fails because everything had to come out – in the rain.  After filling the boot with water and failing to start we managed to do a roll start.

I made it in to Tauranga, only marginally drier inside the car due to the windscreen leaks.  Not one to let nature get in my way I carried on with the history tour, navigating my way to The Elms.

tn_IMG_2915This was a Wesleyan mission station operated by Archdeacon Brown.  It is interesting because it was lived in until 1992 – making the site occupied for 160 years. The interior has been ‘interpreted’ (their word) to different periods – so one bedroom is as it was in 1992,


and the dining room is in 1860.


The outbuildings are reasonably intact, including the librarytn_IMG_2970Unfortunately like most historic sites in NZ it has no government funding and is under attack from progress – in this case motorway overpass.

tn_IMG_2911Zadok, being a church man, didn’t want to leave.  This time the AA man turned up with his trusty jump starter box thing.  Ha!  Quality BMC engineering is impervious to your Jap technology!  We ended up trying it with me turning the key and him whacking something under the bonnet with a hammer.  By 5 pm Zadok was on a tow truck.  Fortunately the YHA was only about 500m from the auto electrician.

The rain cleared overnight so I could do some more exploring.  Monmouth Redoubt is on the waterfront and is remakably well preserved.

tn_IMG_2925tn_IMG_2921This site was operated during the NZ Wars and became a refuge for the Pakeha population of Tauranga when they feared Maori attack.

Being without a car I had to find other things to fill in my time.  Tauranga has a strangely good number of serious gyms per capita.  The first I vistited was ‘The Gym’ on Cameron Rd.  I can’t fault their branding – it is a gym, and nothing else.  No saunas, no foot rubs, no hydroslides.  They have powerlifting, if you like that sort of thing.  The next was TGA Box – a warehouse in an industrial area with a boxing ring and the rest of the gym built around it.  I did one of their technique classes – shorter than what I’m used to but a good cardio blast.

By the late afternoon Zadok was ready so I went in search of Te Ranga.  On the way I stopped off for some bowls.


Victors write the history?

Now Te Ranga is remarkably elusive – the last time I came down I missed it.  This time I went straight past and only on my way back did I see the sign.

No wonder.

No wonder.

It is about standard for any NZ site.  It has its requisite Historic Places Trust concrete block thing, but unlike most places it also has a fence AND spiky bush to keep out pesky historians.

tn_IMG_2936The site itself is only for dedicated NZ Wars fans or Belich impersonators.

tn_IMG_2935If you look closely you can just make out . . . where a trough was.

Since the weather had cleared up I went back to Katikati to make an assault on the Kaimais.  The track names on the map aren’t the same as the ones on the signs.  I took one from Hot Springs Rd to Te Rereatukaiha Hut.  If you go up a bit from the hut on the North-South Track you’ll find a turnoff to the old North-Soth track.  Go up this for about 10 min for a good (but windy) lookout.

tn_STA_2943From here I took the southern track back down to Hot Springs Rd.  This used to be an old road crossing the Kaimais so it’s about 1.5m wide in most places.

tn_IMG_2963Near the bottom there are some large kauri, 4m in diameter.  Not Tane Mahuta but impressive if you like big trees.

tn_IMG_2965On my way back to Auckland I stopped in Paeroa.  This is the secondhand capital of NZ – the shops are fantastic, no matter which era you are interested in.  Some of the retro shops were too kitschy even for me.  Orange and purple quilted dresses!  Charles and Diana plates!  Fondue sets!  Fortunately Zadok’s shenanigans restrained my finances so I only bought a QEII badge.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s