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Kauri gum resin from the Coromandel was rated

top quality (ie, golden clear), and Gumtown

really earned its name. Gum diggers took out

over 100,000 tons of the golden resin from the

peninsula over 50 years, most of it from this

area. This centre of the historic gum trade is

now known as Coroglen.

Gumtown’s proximity to the Waiwawa River that

drained into Whitianga Harbour meant it was

well placed for transporting kauri logs and gum

to mills and market. The town got its ‘toehold’

in 1864 when Schappe & Ansenne built the

‘Upper Mill’, 8km upstream from the Whitianga

estuary, on the east bank of the Waiwawa.

In the late 1880s, gum digging was in full swing

and stores ‘grubstaked’ some 200 diggers

who bought supplies on credit on condition

they sold their findings to the storekeeper.

Pack trains carried supplies into the bush, and

returned with bags of the gum, most exported

to be rendered as varnish and linoleum.

The Upper Mill closed in 1889, but gum digging

continued. By 1900, this once rowdy pioneer

town had four stores, a saddle maker, cobbler,

butcher, boarding houses, pool hall, hotels,

steamboat wharf, and even a tram to Whitianga

and wire connection to Mercury Bay.


Government geologist (and photographer)

Alexander McKay reported promising gold ore

in the region after a discovery near Slip Creek

in 1898. Thus started yet another boost for

Gumtown following the years of logging and

gum digging. Now even more resources were

needed requiring massive investment for drilling

equipment, stamping batteries, cyanide vats...

and the demand for roads, especially the all

important route to Thames with its banking

connections and the railway to Auckland. This

road – now called the Tapu-Coroglen Road,

was completed in 1911.


In 1922, the gold, the kauri, and the gum were

worked out. The town was re-named Coroglen

after a famous horse that raced throughout NZ

in the early 1920s. Though the town’s industry

diminished, the vast cleared areas created

farmland and paddocks for cattle, sheep, dairy

cows, horses and now even llamas.

Coroglen got a bit of a boost again when the

SH25 road was officially paved post-WWII, and

traffic increased when bach owners and holiday

makers had better access to the area. The

majestic trees are felled and the valleys – once

torn from logging and gum diggers – are now at

rest, panoramas of pastoral paradise. Coroglen

is mostly known now for its fabulous Sunday

Farmers Market and entertainment-rich tavern.


Nestled in the gentle hills overlooking the

farmland valleys of the Coroglen area is the

Rangihau Ranch, located just 1km up Rangihau

Road from SH25, a short distance east of the

Coroglen Tavern and Tapu-Coroglen Road.

Historically, a small steamer would call 3 times

a week from Whitianga, and each day up to fifty

The Mr. V Connor’s battery and mine

at Kapowai-Gumtown


Auckland Observer

, May 1906.

Exploring the historic bush of


pack horses could be seen going up the ‘Gentle

Annie’ track to the camps in the surrounding

hills. (Gentle Annie is the common name of a

geologic, goldbearing rock formation.)

The Gentle Annie packhorse track still exists

and is part of Rangihau Ranch, and you can

explore it on horseback even now. It heads up

toward the ‘Welcome Jack’ goldmine site.

This 350-acre farm, bought by the late Duncan

and Ursula Lockhart in 1971, is still in the

family. Nick Lockhart and Tessa Gregory’s

Rangihau Ranch is a bustle of farming

activities: a farm stay accommodation, a kiwi

fruit orchard, sheep and beef...



“Our horse-riding business has grown along

with the tourism on the Peninsula over the

years”, shares Tessa, “and now we have a team

of 35 well-trained trekking horses and ponies,

offering wonderful riding experiences for all

ages and abilities.” Even the toddlers can enjoy

a pony encounter on a lead-rein.

Over summer, daughter Shannon leads the

Summer Day Camp programme for children ages

7-16 years, where riders have the opportunity to

spend a day on the farm with a suitable mount

to experience outdoor activities, bush craft and

much more.

The guided rides follow the Gentle Annie up

through native bush, across open pasture and

into the hills to take in the spectacular scenery

across the Peninsula.

See more at

A steamer arrives on

the Waiwawa River at

Gumtown in 1913.

A happy day camper in

the Waiwawa River on the

Rangihau Ranch.

Young riders from the Rangihau Ranch

take in the majestic vista from

the hills above Coroglen.