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Through the Portal

Let’s make Thames more attractive

Arecent edition of the Informer featured the opening of the Kopu Marine and Business Precinct, featuring pier and launching ramps as well as land-based areas for business operations. This has got to be a positive move for the Thames region, which makes you wonder how much Hauraki contributed towards the investment required but that’s another matter.
 |  Trevor Ammundsen  | 

I got to thinking about the types of businesses that would use this facility/ Where will the commercial growth come from? Aquaculture has been mentioned and it should get some business from this area, if only to cut down the transportation cost of getting goods to the markets in Auckland. The major fishing centres of Whitianga and Coromandel will be largely unaffected though, being closer to the marine production zones. It is apparent that additional areas of business will be needed to make the Business Precinct a success and immediately I thought of tourism.

We must be honest. Thames is not a very attractive gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula. Some call it quaint, some call it dowdy, and most call it boring. Its most attractive tourist attraction is having fish and chips at the wharf. It needs something more and, as a state highway bypass is too expensive, the Business Precinct could be just the thing Thames needs; potentially acting as a base for river and sea excursions of various types.

For example suitable boats could take tourists for excursions upriver; how far up depending on the type of boat and the tide. These trips would unfortunately be through some of the most boring countryside around, so we would need the locals to do a bit of work to make things more attractive.

Growing a strip of native bush alongside the river would be helpful, giving things a bit of atmosphere. A few discretely placed models should be added; of Moa perhaps, a Haast Eagle or two, maybe even the Moehau Monster. My wife suggested it would be relatively easy to mass produce some concrete crocodiles and place them at regular intervals between the high and low water marks. When I pointed out we didn’t have any crocodiles in New Zealand she quite correctly replied that most tourists think we are part of Australia so maybe her idea has merit.

Passengers need a reason to get off the boat to stretch their legs, so a couple of bars would be needed at various spots. These don’t need to be too flash, just converted containers spruced up to look like beach bars is all that is needed. For the more serious tourist, a model Maori village would be an attraction if this could be erected. Small waka tiwai could be used to give tourists an “on river” experience from these villages. The economic potential for locals from such ventures would be significant.

Another nautical option would be to have “self-guided” airboats, similar to those used in the Florida everglades. Small groups, couples or families could hire a boat and head upstream or downstream into the Firth of Thames. Possibly they could take a trip across to the Miranda Hot Springs for a nice trip away from Thames.

For the adventurous, we could offer duck hunting trips. Maimai could be erected along both river banks which tourists could hire as part of a guided hunting trip. Drones could be disguised as ducks and flown up and down the river enabling tourists to blast away having the time of their lives. For safety reasons it may pay to have the front of the Maimai steel plated, possibly the ducks also.

I am sure there are plenty of other good ideas out there, short cord bungee jumping from the old Kopu Bridge perhaps, which, when combined with the boating-based activities and the relocation of the Fish and Chip shop to Kopu, could make Thames a tourist town to match such meccas as Matamata and Gore. Thames could start to become attractive!

But then again, perhaps it would be quicker and more beneficial to just build the State Highway bypass from Pipiroa to Tararu.