Uncover the history of the Coromandel peninsula, from the first European settlers to the deforestation of the beautiful kauri forests.
Coromandel History Overview
From as early as 1795 the huge kauri forests of the Coromandel were milled and used for the British navy ships. The first of the European settlers came to the area in the 1830s.
The Coromandel itself was named after the British Navy ship "H.M.S. Coromandel" which anchored first off Colville on 13th June 1820. The ship stayed in the Hauraki Gulf for 12 months then went back to England with a load of timber.
Gold was later discovered, and the mining of it began in the 1860s.
The Coromandel region was first visited by Captain James Cook in 1769.
Bill Webster was the first European to settle in the Coromandel region. In the 1830's he deserted from an American whaling ship and set up his trading post on Whanganui Island (which is situated at the entrance to the Coromandel Harbour).
Webster learnt the Māori language and used Māori labour to build small schooners and prepare timber cargoes for the Australian market. At one time the island became the proposed site for the city of Auckland.
Coromandel first became known for its giant kauri forests running up the peninsula. The ruination of the great kauri forests then began, and thousands of feet of timber was milled from the area.
From 1795 vessels were loaded with kauri which would be used for the masts and spars of the British Navy. By the time people became aware of the deforestation of the forests of the Coromandel it was too late. Nearly a quarter of the magnificent forests had been felled. The forests were reduced from 200,000 hectares to 5,000 hectares and approximately a billion feet of timber was taken from this area within 20 years.
Gold was first discovered by Charles Ring in 1852 and mining began in the early 1860s. Remains of mines and batteries can still be seen along the associated walks. In the peak of the gold rush days, during 1880 through to the early 1900s, the population of Coromandel was well over 12,000 and had 19 hotels. Some of the old buildings are still standing today.
The School of Mines, built in 1898, contains many relics of the early years of the Coromandel. It was built to teach all aspects of mining and mines engineering.
Useful Coromandel Links
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Coromandel Region Information
Key information and facts about the Coromandel region.
Major activities and attractions in the Coromandel region.