Paeroa, a small town in New Zealand, lies in the northern Waikato region of the Thames Valley. Located at the base of the Coromandel Peninsula, it is close to the junction of the Waihou and Ohinemuri Rivers, 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) from the coast at the Firth of Thames.

Rural area surrounding Paeroa
Paeroa's location within the North Island
Coordinates: 37°22′30″S 175°40′00″E
CountryNew Zealand
Territorial authorityHauraki District
15 m (49 ft)
 (June 2018)[1]

Paeroa had a population of 3,888 at the 2013 New Zealand census, a decrease of 87 people since the 2006 census. There were 1,836 males and 2,052 females.[2] 75.5% were European/Pākehā, 31.3% were Māori, 3.4% were Pacific peoples and 2.6% were Asian.[3]

New Zealanders know Paeroa for its mineral springs, which used to provide the water used in a local soft drink, "Lemon & Paeroa".

The town stands at the intersection of State Highways 2 and 26, and is the central service location for the Hauraki District with the town being a midway stop between Auckland, Tauranga and Rotorua. It is about half way between Auckland and Tauranga, and acts as the southern gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula, and as the western gateway to the Bay of Plenty and the Karangahake Gorge.


One can gloss the Māori-language name Paeroa as composed of pae (ridge) and roa (long).[4]


Early settlement

Captain James Cook explored the Waihou River in 1779, taking a long-boat up as far as Netherton, just a couple of miles from where the town of Paeroa was built 100 years on.

The area was briefly explored in October 1826 by Captain James Herd, in command of the Lambton and the Isabella (or Rosanna). Herd was sent on an exploratory mission by the first organisation to be known as the New Zealand Company and claimed to have bought one million acres (400,000 ha) of land from local Māori in Hokianga and Manukau.[5]

By 1869, anticipating the rush to the Ohinemuri Goldfields, considerable numbers of miners camped at Cashell’s Landing "Puke".

Development of Paeroa township

In 1870, Asher Cassrels, a Lithuanian, leased the block of land known as Paeroa from Māori.[6] This included Primrose Hill and most of what is now the town centre.

When James Mackay (surveyor) and Sir David McLean (Minister of Mines) completed negotiations six years later with the Māori Chiefs, Tukukino and Taraia, the fields were declared open. Six hundred miners rushed to Karangahake, considered to be the El Dorado, on 3 March 1875. A canvas town of 1,600 people with about 20 stores and grog shops set the area going. The big gold reefs like Talisman and Crown were discovered but proved hard to work. Heavy machinery required for hard quartz mining had to be brought via the Waihou River and up to Paeroa. The river was the only highway and with two shipping companies in operation, Paeroa became a thriving transport and distribution centre.

When the Northern Steamship Company combined with its opposition, the wharves from near the Bank of New Zealand (Wharf Street) had to be shifted two miles (3.2 km) downstream in 1892, and eventually to just below Puke Bridge due to the silting from mining operations. A busy freight business developed with four ships regularly running from Auckland to Thames to Paeroa.

The Thames Branch railway line reached the town in 1881 at the Paeroa Railway Station, and gradually ships gave way to steam, which in turn gave way to road transport. Work on the Paeroa–Pokeno Line commenced in the 1930s, but little was done and the proposal was abandoned.

A historic Paeroa building, in the town centre, is the former National Bank of New Zealand's gold refinery, built in 1914 in Willoughby Street. The building is now a private home and business, hidden from street level view by a ponga fence. In 1911 the National Bank formed joint venture with the New Zealand Mining Trust and the bank purchased a section with a 97 ft (30 m) frontage by 125 ft (38 m) deep in Arthur Street (now Willoughby Street) for 200 pounds.

By February, 1914, a Ferro-cement building 80 by 40 ft (24 by 12 m), with an iron roof and a 40-foot-tall (12 m) smokestack was completed. Inside was the main refining chamber, two assay offices, weighing room, accounting room, engine and dynamo rooms, two officers' bedrooms, sitting room and bathroom. Detached from the main building was a store room and coal bin.

Modern history

As late as 1928, the Waihou River was still navigable for larger ships all the way up to the town, and the Kopu Bridge was therefore constructed as a swing bridge.[7]

When Brenan and Company, the largest horse and wagon operator, moved to trucking, they bought out the steamship company and named their trucks after the ships that plied the Ohinemuri River. Waimarie and Taniwha were always painted on the new International or Ford trucks that came into their fleet. When transport operator Sarjant’s amalgamated with Brenan,[8] a large truck centre evolved in Paeroa.

As the passenger rail service dwindled, Paeroa eventually lost its railway, so much of the town had its beginnings in supply and transport to the Hauraki and District. The swings of time have enabled the town to boom and revert a number of times.


Lemon & Paeroa

Paeroa is best known for the soft drink Lemon & Paeroa (L&P) that used to be produced in the town. The soft drink was made with lemon and carbonated mineral water from Paeroa. Today L&P is owned by Coca-Cola and produced on the same production line as other Coca-Cola products sold in New Zealand.

A large L&P bottle stands on the main road as a landmark in the town of Paeroa. In 1994 L&P ran a series of advertisements based around Paeroa, the advert had locals standing in front of various parts of the town pointing out what the town isn't famous for. In one advertisement, a local stands in front a 1930s bungalow making the comment, "It's not famous for its Hollywood mansions". Landmarks and features in the town included the towns Harbour Bridge (a small single lane bridge), bright lights (a flashing chemist sign), luxury hotels (a local motel), trendy shops (an Op Shop) and Opera House (the back of the local town hall).

At the end of each advert a group of people would end by saying "But it is famous" pointing to the landmark L&P bottle in the background. The advert would end with the tag line L&P World Famous in New Zealand. There were 3 separate advertisements all using the song Counting the Beat by The Swingers.[9][10][11]


Paeroa is known as the Events Capital of the Coromandel, as well as having a national reputation for horseracing. February is a busy event month in Paeroa and the motorcycle race ‘Battle of the Streets’ and ‘Pipe Band Tattoo’ events both attract participants and crowds from all over New Zealand and overseas.

The horse track was closed in 2014.[12]


Two marae (tribal meeting grounds) of the Ngāti Tamaterā are located in Paeroa: Taharua and Te Pai o Hauraki.[13] Each has a wharenui meeting house of the same name.[14]


Paeroa College is a secondary (years 9–13) school with a decile rating of 2 and a roll of 253.[15] The College opened on 5 February 1958,[16] and replaced the Paeroa District High School which had operated from 1902.[17]

Paeroa also five other other co-educational schools:

  • Paeroa Central School and Miller Avenue School are full primary (years 1–8) schools with rolls of 64 and 153, respectively.[18][19]
  • Goldfields School is a special school and area resource centre, which has students aged from 5 to 21 years old.[20] It has a roll of 68.[21]
  • St Joseph's Catholic School is a full primary (years 1–8) state integrated school with a roll of 72.[22] The school was established in 1900.[23]
  • Paeroa Christian School is a full primary (years 1–8) state integrated school with a roll of 48.[24] The school was established in 1987 with the support of local evangelical churches.[25]


  1. "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2018 (provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 23 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018. For urban areas, "Subnational population estimates (UA, AU), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996, 2001, 2006-18 (2017 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. 23 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  2. 2013 Census QuickStats about a place  : Paeroa
  3. 2013 Census QuickStats about a place (Cultural diversity) : Paeroa
  4. "New Zealand Railways Magazine". New Zealand Railways Magazine. 10. 1935. Retrieved 14 May 2019. Pae = ridge ; roa = long.
  5. Patricia Burns (1989). Fatal Success: A History of the New Zealand Company. Heinemann Reed. ISBN 0-7900-0011-3.
  6. Swainson, Niki (June 1971). "The Cassrels Family of Paeroa". Ohinemuri Regional History Journal (15).
  7. "Kopu Bridge, SH25". Engineering Heritage Register. Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  8. Poulter, Sally and Graeme (September 2002). "Reunion - Brenan & Co and Provincial Transport". Ohinemuri Regional History Journal (46).
  9. "L&P - World Famous (1990s, New Zealand)". YouTube.
  10. "the Original World Famous in New Zealand L&P Ad - Paeroa 1994". YouTube.
  11. "L&P World Famous Hotel". YouTube.
  12. "End of racing at Paeroa confirmed". The Informant. 13 March 2014.
  13. "Te Kāhui Māngai directory". Te Puni Kōkiri.
  14. "Māori Maps". Te Potiki National Trust.
  15. Education Counts: Paeroa College
  16. "1958 - 1967". Paeroa College. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  17. "1875 - 1938". Paeroa College. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  18. Education Counts: Paeroa Central School
  19. Education Counts: Miller Avenue School
  20. "Goldfields School (Paeroa) 23/12/2010". Education Review Office. 23 December 2010.
  21. Education Counts: Goldfields School
  22. Education Counts: St Joseph's Catholic School (Paeroa)
  23. "St Joseph's Catholic School - Paeroa". Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  24. Education Counts: Paeroa Christian School
  25. "Past and Present". Paeroa Christian School. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
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