Waikato, known for its rich, fertile farmland, was the scene of significant battles during the Land Wars of the mid nineteenth century. It is here that early missionary activity encouraged the Maori to adopt Pakeha farming methods. Trade between the two groups initially flourished, but as Pakeha settler numbers increased, Maori became increasingly suspicious of their intentions.
The story of the Land Wars in the Waikato is closely related to the King movement, the belief that the Maori King posed a subversive challenge to Queen Victoria.
The Coromandel Peninsula is fascinating for its gold mining, logging and gum digging past. The region has very little flat land and is covered in dense forest fringed with beautiful beaches. The Coromandel’s extensive kauri forests were exploited for logs from the early nineteenth until well into the twentieth century.
The Waikato War driving tour: conflict and resolution
Take a journey through the Waikato and learn about a pivotal moment in New Zealand’s history through an audio driving tour. Explore the battle sites of the 1860s Waikato War, considered to be the defining war of the New Zealand Wars.
Listen to how this War unfolded, learn how this landscape changed and reimagine the events that took place at these sites.
Find out more through The Waikato War website, download the Driving Tour app, map and brochure and start your journey.
The Alexandra Redoubt in Pirongia is a beautifully preserved landmark from the New Zealand Wars in the mid-19th century. The redoubt, with complete high earth walls and trenches, was built by the Armed Constabulary in the military settlement for protective purposes.
Scene of one of the crucial battles of the Waikato campaign in the New Zealand Wars, the grassed over ditches and banks of Rangiriri Pa give an impression of the formidable task the British undertook in attempting to drive Maori from their defences.
After the Rangiriri battle, this redoubt was built on Maori earthworks nearby to house a British garrison.
Remains of earthworks built by the British army in 1863.
The Thames School of Mines opened in 1885-86 to improve gold mining extraction rates on the Thames goldfield. After the decline of this goldfield, the school remained opened till 1954, its mineralogical museum remaining open to the public as it is today.
"Must-do" checklist for the Waikato and Coromandel regions
These regions have much to offer visitors
Driving River Creek Railway and Potteries, Coromandel
Rapaura Watergardens, Thames
Te Aroha Mineral Spa, Te Aroha
Martha Mine Cornish Pumphouse, Waihi