Thames’ historic goldmine is so much more than a “tin shed under a Pohuktawa tree” and two steam days this weekend are setting out to prove it.
Planned for October 16 and 17, The Hauraki Prospectors Association, whose home is at the Goldmine Experience on Tararu Rd, hope the days will attract locals to the site, after Covid-19 restrictions put a pause on domestic tourists and school tours.
“Thames is the most historic town in New Zealand, and people need to be able to know what’s here,” association president Alan Young said.
As part of the two-day event, the public will be able to see in action the steam engines from the 1800s that have been restored by the prospectors.
Bringing the engines back to their original condition took around three years, Mr Young said.
“It’s just an ongoing project. Every day, the goalposts shift further down the runway. There’s always work to be done.”
The public will also get a chance to learn about the history of the site, and donate, if they wish, to the prospectors’ new project: a blacksmith shop that is currently under construction.
“Millions of hours have gone into this place,” Mr Young said. “It means a lot to me. It means a lot to a lot of people.”
The Hauraki Prospectors Association was formed more than 30 years ago by a couple of retired gold miners.
Nowadays, the group was made of a “varied bunch” of school teachers, lawyers, geologists, and engineers, Mr Young said.
They were used to getting thousands of tourists and school children through the site each year, but the latest Covid-19 outbreak had significantly reduced the numbers.
Despite this, Mr Young was hopeful visitors from around the Thames Valley would pay the site a visit, in order for the prospectors to pass on their “wealth of knowledge” and passion for the project.
“Although we’re about mining, our main objective has always been education,” he said.
“This place has always had a future, and it will always have a future, and it will always have a place in the community.”
DETAILS: Hauraki Prospectors Association Steam Days, October 16 and 17, 10am-3pm at Thames Goldmine Experience, Tararu Rd. For information about the goldmine, visit: www.goldmine-experience.co.nz.
By KELLEY TANTAU