A Trifecta in Hauraki: The Maritime Museum, Rays Rest & Steampunk The Thames
We always enjoy our trips to Thames and often stay at the Miranda Holiday Park for a day or two beforehand. This time, however, we spent the Monday night at The Maritime Museum at Paeroa and freedom camped at Ray’s Rest (Kaiaua) the next night.
The Maritime Museum is just a few kilometres out of Paeroa, heading west and well worth a stop. Run by trustees and volunteers there has been a considerable amount of time and money put into developing the facilities. The museum is full of interesting memorabilia and volunteers have a wealth of knowledge on the early history of the district. The volunteers operate daily boat trips from the park and the trustees are developing the venue for summer concerts. This is most definitely one venue worth stopping at and for overnight camping, with on-site toilets and optional power available for a small charge.
Traveling on from the museum to Rays Rest is an easy 35-minute drive and we arrived there just after midday. At the southern end of the Firth of Thames inlet, this area is rather exposed but a very picturesque location. The expansive views, sheer quantity and depth of deposited shells and variety of birdlife are serene and peaceful making it hard to leave.
Just down from Ray’s rest is the Pūkorokoro Shorebird Centre at Miranda. This is another worthwhile stop if you are in the area, that also provides overnight accommodation.
With the 2020 Steampunk event cancelled due to the pandemic, the event was rescheduled for the school holidays and the new ANZAC weekend. We made this a combined event between All Points Camping, the Bay of Plenty Caravan Club, and the South Auckland Caravan Club. Being in the first week of the school holidays we we able to camp at the Thames South School from Wednesday to Sunday.
Over the 5 days, we had in excess of 35 groups join us for Steampunk fun. The Thames community went all out for the weekend events and the Saturday parade was, as always, a lot of fun.
A final highlight for Bev and I on this trip was doing the tour of the Thames Goldmine which included going into the mine and seeing the amazing ‘stampers’’ and other machinery in operation.
For us, it was a fantastic time away. There is something special about the history of the Thames and Coromandel area and still so much more to explore.
BY: Gary Stoneley
Photos: ©2022 Gary Stoneley, Miriam Richardson, The Maritime Musem, Steampunk the Thames and Thames Goldmine.