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December Guided Tours

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Industrial history at its finest! Learn about the thrilling mining history of Thames on a guided tour of New Zealand's last mining school.

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Guided tours bring to life New Zealand’s mining history, weaving a trail through Māori, industrial, education and geological history at Thames School of Mines. Just minutes from the centre of town, the School is a great place to start your exploration of the Coromandel Peninsula.

In 1867, gold discoveries on the Coromandel transformed Thames into a hotbed for gold-seekers from all around the world, as well as New Zealand’s most populous town.

In 1885, Thames became the location of one of 30 national Schools of Mines, intended to stimulate returns from mining and maximise the amount of gold produced. In 1886, the school moved to its permanent site on the grounds of a former Wesleyan Church, which was itself built on a Māori urupā (burial ground). A number of additional buildings followed, including the 1888 Experimental Metallurgical Works and the 1900 Mineral Museum, as well as buildings constructed to support radical new inventions- like electricity generators or x-ray machines.

The school’s curriculum expanded to embrace agricultural science, pharmacology, and other engineering disciplines before it eventually closed in 1954. Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga (then The Historic Places Trust) acquired the site in 1979.

Today, a visit to Thames School of Mines opens the book on early New Zealand history, starting with the volcanic rocks and minerals of the Coromandel and ancient fossils. The original education buildings have not changed since 1904 and feature authentic period equipment and laboratory facilities. The Mineralogical Museum has more than 3000 specimens from around the world and at home- and is one of the best collections in the Southern Hemisphere. Look for samples of Thames gold or a piece of the Pink and White Terraces hidden amongst the treasures kept in the collection.

Thames School of Mines is a must visit for those with an interest in geology, the mining history of Thames or New Zealand History.


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Organizer Thames School of Mines

Organizer of December Guided Tours

Thames School of Mines is proudly cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

Located in Thames, Coromandel we offer guided tours of the school of mines.

Step into the school to get a vivid sense of how practical science and technology was taught in our pioneering past. You’ll see authentic period equipment and classic gold rush machinery, classrooms, labs, microscopes and maps of the gold fields, a model of a whole stamper battery system and an actual small-scale stamper battery, mining documents and historic photos. The original furnace room, where gold was laboriously extracted and then assayed, is well worth a look.

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