Most people don’t know that Paeroa is the farthest inland port in New Zealand!
Paeroa was an important destination for the unloading of mining machinery and equipment in the late 19th century, when the goldfields of Waihi and Karangahake were being developed and mined.
The vast amounts of gold that were gained from these goldfields were then shipped out of the area via ports on site and in the town.
The original Ohinemuri Council Wharf was established in Wharf Street. With the introduction of rail to Paeroa, this wharf was built a little further upstream from the original Ohinemuri Council Wharf, but the later construction of the first railway bridge meant that vessels had to lower their funnels to pass under the bridge, which limited access to the larger vessels.
Today it is hard to visualise this, as there were no built-up stop banks in those days, so the vessels were able to berth alongside the wharves.
However, you can visit the Historical Maritime Museum and Park, where you’ll be able to view a fascinating collection of artifacts and information about Paeroa’s maritime past, maritime history and displays of the region including Captain Cook’s journey up the river, the Northern Steam Ship Co. and naval displays.
I was truly amazed at the collection of maritime exhibits contained within this Museum, both Naval and Merchant Marine. Having a father who was a Chief Engineer on Passenger and large Cargo Ships for the Union Steam Ship Company and relatives who served in the Royal New Zealand Navy and Royal Navy, including on HMS Hood, I show little bit about New Zealand Naval history. Believe me when I say this collection is totally worth a visit. It wouldn't be too hard to spend an hour or two looking at the amazing exhibits; real and model ships, explanations of Paeroa's rich maritime history and New Zealand's Naval exploits, as well as the peaceful surroundings of the park.
The Museum is just 5 minute’s drive from Longridge Country Estate. Head North on Paeroa’s main thoroughfare (Puke Road) and you can be there in less than 1 minute from the centre of town! You may even be able to see a friendly seal who has visited the (Ngāhine Wharf) boat ramp.
The Museum is open from 10am to 3pm during the winter or by arrangement.
The venue is also available for private functions, and the park is home to a special ANZAC Day Commemoration event and the Annual Christmas Lights Show. It also has facilities for self-contained campervan stays on the park grounds. Visiting vessels are also welcome.
To find out more, visit https://historicalmaritimepark.co.nz/ or https://www.facebook.com/historicalmaritimeparkpaeroa/ or call 07 862 7121.