Waikato & the Coromandel Peninsula

Before the Waikato invasion, Rangiaowhia (5km east of Te Awamutu on Rangiaowhia Rd; ask at the i-SITE for directions) was a thriving Māori farming town, exporting wheat, maize, potatoes and fruit to as far afield as Australia. It was home to thousands of inhabitants, two churches, a flour mill and a racecourse, and was the perfect model of what NZ under the Māori version of the Treaty of Waitangi had desired – two sovereign peoples interacting to mutual advantage.

Sadly, all that remains of the town is the cute 1854 Anglican St Paul’s Church and the Catholic mission’s cemetery, standing in the midst of rich farming land – confiscated from the Māori and distributed to colonial soldiers.

In February 1864 the settlement was left undefended while King Tawhiao’s warriors held fortified positions further north. In a key tactical move, General Cameron outflanked them and took the town, killing women, children and the elderly. This was a turning point in the campaign, demoralising the Māori and drawing the warriors out of their near impregnable fortifications.

The war ended further south at Orakau, where a roadside obelisk marks the site where 300 Māori, led by Rewi Maniapoto, repulsed three days of attacks against an unfinished by 1500 troops, before breaking out and retreating to what is now known as the King Country (losing 70 warriors).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Waikato & the Coromandel Peninsula attractions

1. St Paul’s Church

0.01 MILES

All that remains of Rangiaowhia is the cute 1854 Anglican St Paul’s Church and the Catholic mission’s cemetery, standing in the midst of rich farming land…

2. Rose Garden

2.67 MILES

The Rose Garden has 2500 bushes and 51 varieties with fabulously fruity names such as Lady Gay and Sexy Rexy. The roses usually bloom from November to May.

3. Te Awamutu Museum

2.89 MILES

Te Awamutu Museum has a superb collection of Māori taonga (treasures) and an excellent display on the Waikato War. The highlight is the revered Te Uenuku …

4. Cambridge Museum

9.65 MILES

In a former courthouse, the quirky Cambridge Museum has plenty of pioneer relics, a military history room and a range of local history displays.

5. Jubilee Gardens

9.75 MILES

Apart from its Spanish Mission town clock, Jubilee Gardens is a wholehearted tribute to the ‘mother country'. A British lion guards the cenotaph, with a…

6. Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari

10.45 MILES

A community trust has erected 47km of pest-proof fencing around the triple peaks of Maungatautari (797m) to create the impressive Sanctuary Mountain…

7. Lake Karapiro

10.74 MILES

Eight kilometres southeast of Cambridge, Lake Karapiro is the furthest downstream of a chain of eight hydroelectric power stations on the Waikato River…