GUMTOWN AND ITS GUM
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.
THEN THAR BE GOLD!
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.
AND SO, IT’S ‘COROGLEN’ AND FARMING
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.
DISCOVER THE AREA ON HORSEBACK!
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
, 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
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 atwww.rangihauranch.co.nz.
A steamer arrives on
the Waiwawa River at
Gumtown in 1913.
A happy day camper in
the Waiwawa River on the
Young riders from the Rangihau Ranch
take in the majestic vista from
the hills above Coroglen.
COROMANDEL LIFE 2015 SPRING/HOLIDAY