On the eve of the much anticipated Aroha Cruise In car rally and festival that runs this weekend from the 2nd - 4th October, we had our guest reporter Ngaire, from the excellent Bookie Monster blog, take us for a tour of her adopted hometown to share the vintage treasures that the historic North Island spot has to offer.
THIS VINTAGE TOWN TE AROHA
Nestled under the green, forested mountain of the same name is the town of Te Aroha, a town with genuine New Zealand heritage. I am biased but I happen to think that my adopted hometown is something of a hidden gem. Prior to Pakeha arrival, the natural mineral springs at the base of the mountain were used by Maori and there are several stories of how the mountain came to be named Te Aroha, te reo Maori for “love” or “the feeling of love”.
The town itself was established in the 1870s, driven partly by the establishment of a spa and bathhouses around the springs, and partly by the discovery of gold. It’s this history that gives the town its vintage appeal, with some lovely examples of Victorian and Edwardian architecture, especially in the Te Aroha Domain where the spa houses were built. This spa was the first New Zealand purpose-built tourist facility, meaning Te Aroha can rightly claim to be the birthplace of New Zealand tourism. The Domain is now the only complete Edwardian domain remaining in New Zealand.
In recent years Te Aroha has become a popular stop on the Hauraki Rail Trail, offering a relatively easy detour from Paeroa with amazing views of the Kaimai mountain range.
Small but perfectly formed, there are lots of places to visit in Te Aroha to step back in time.
Te Aroha Museum, Te Aroha Domain
A visit to the museum is an absolute must and entry is an easy-on-the-pocket $4 for adults and $2 for children. Located in the Cadman Bathhouse the museum has a wide range of Maori artefacts, as well as pieces reflecting the long history of the established town. There are rooms resembling the spa rooms of old, as well as farming and home industries. There is always a special exhibition running which in the past has included a collection of wedding dresses, militaria and restored craft treasures from the area. The museum is open 7 days a week. From the museum you can explore the Domain and the local walking tracks.
Second Thoughts Collectables, 136 Whittaker St
A collectables store specialising in vintage, retro and antique ware. This is a must-visit for collectors of Crown Lynn and record albums, as they usually have plenty to browse through. As well there’s vintage books, accessories, toys and lots more. The owners keep the stock in great condition and love seeing secondhand goods going off to a new home and life.
Banco, 174 Whittaker St
Located in a 1920’s bank building Banco offers coffee, food and vintage in one tasty package! The homemade food is delicious and the vintage goods on offer range from shoes, clothes (including designer clothing) and collectables to kitchenware and more. It’s also fun to pick out the old bank features in the building interior, including the original vault, and there’s a courtyard out the back for those warm summer days.
The Salvation Army Family Store, 213 Whittaker St
A ubiquitous sight in many small towns, Te Aroha’s Salvation Army Family store is welcoming and a great place to ferret out vintage treasures. They always have a wide range of clothes, shoes, bags, knick knacks and furniture, all at extremely reasonable prices.
Restorations Antiques, 172 Whittaker St
An antique store along classic lines. Crowded with furniture, jewellery, furs, bags, knick knacks, household items, typewriters, tools and lots more besides. Prices are also more along classic antique store lines but there’s often a small bargain to pick up and it’s always fun to browse.
Te Aroha Organic Health Food Shop, 9 Lawrence Ave
A treat for the eyes and the tastebuds! Te Aroha Organic Health Food Shop is located in an old miner’s cottage and the walls feature an array of vintage kitchen implements, advertisements and packaging. Browse the organic goodies on offer and enjoy a fantastic coffee. They also do wonderful food, all made on the premises, and with lots of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.
All around town
Walking around town is a delight for fans of vintage and historical architecture. From the Victorian and Edwardian domain and spa buildings to the early 20th century villas and cottages to the Art Deco style St Joseph’s Catholic Church, a stroll around the central part of the town will reveal all these and more.
As you can see there is so much to see and do in Te Aroha! It would be well worth a visit this weekend to check out the amazing buildings, the heritage sites and the incredible cars that will be on display at the Aroha Cruise In.
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