Elisabeth Easther finds this town has much to boast besides its famed giant L&P bottle.
Origin of name:
Paeroa is Maori for "a long, low ridge of hills".
Town slogan: The Best Little Town in the Middle of Everywhere.
Town icon: The giant 7m- tall Lemon & Paeroa bottle in Ohinemuri reserve at the end of the Criterion Bridge.
Fizzing: Lemon & Paeroa, the drink that's renowned for being World Famous in New Zealand, was originally enjoyed in the early days of the 20th century when visitors would add lemon juice to the mineral water that sparkled out of the ground here.
Famous locals: Renee Wickliffe (Black Fern); league star Kevin Locke's nana lives in Paeroa; and seven locals have received the MBE.
Old news: In 1779 Captain Cook went the furthest inland he ever travelled, taking a longboat up the Waihou River to where Puke Bridge is today.
Big business: Paeroa is surrounded by dairy farms and is also big on organic fertiliser production, largely thanks to Agrisea, which has just been recognised for being a sustainable business.
Source of pride: Locals are still buzzing about being named Community of the Year in 2012. The many big events here are all run by volunteers — Battle of the Streets, for one, relies on 300 unpaid heroes.
Town fiestas: Paeroa is known as the Events Capital of the Coromandel. There's Battle of the Streets (a motorcycle race), the Highland Games & Tattoo, the V8 & Motorcycle Show and Swap Meet, Paeroa's Day in the Domain, the Echo Walking Festival, the Winter Art Wander, Paeroa Vintage and Classic Car Show and the Santa Parade, Carols in the Park and Christmas Lights.
Here for a short time: Visit the museum, the miniature train display and check out the numerous antique and curio shops. Or seek out the series of stone sculptures that pepper the town — each tells an interesting story.
Wheel be back:
Paeroa is incredibly welcoming to caravans and motor homes.
Best place to take kids: Bullswool Farm Park, a wee way out of town, is a great rural day out featuring the Bush Discovery Trail and Gold and Kauri Museum. Or spend some time in town at Railway Reserve where you'll find a fab park, skate bowl, free gas barbecue and intergenerational play equipment, so everyone from toddlers to senior citizens can play together.
Best park: Picturesque Paeroa Domain is where you'll go to chill out, with huge stands of mature trees, the original band rotunda and more amazing play equipment.
Photo op: Stop at Ohinemuri Reserve and have your happy snap taken at the big L&P bottle. #saycheese
Best view: Head up Primrose Hill to the cenotaph for a bird's eye view of town.
Best walks: Wander the Loop Track at Karangahake Gorge — it travels alongside the river, passes through old rail tunnels and alongside mining relics, taking approximately one hour. And then there's Paeroa township itself, where you can wander the whole day away and not get bored.
Best place to pull over: 10 minutes out of town Karangahake Gorge is an utter treasure — stunning scenery, a magnificent swing bridge, bush, cliffs and plenty of old tunnels to explore (take a torch), and then there's the genuinely excellent eating at Ohinemuri Winery and The Falls Retreat.
Best swim: There are lots of spots to stop and paddle in the Ohinemuri River, either beneath the bridge in the gorge or under the bridge that takes you to Karangahake.
Best museum: Paeroa Museum is fascinating — aside from housing the Southern Hemisphere's largest collection of Royal Doulton, it also provides a snapshot of Paeroa, past and present. The Historical Maritime Park and Museum is chocka with material about local and national maritime history.
Nice arts: The Paeroa Society of Arts hosts regularly changing exhibitions, buy or browse.
Top shop: The curio shopping here is so good. If you've got time, poke your nose into every shop in town and you'll leave with something unique.
Cream of the coffee: Go to The Refinery, in the historic gold refinery. Aside from superb coffee they also provide accommodation and host regular events. Check out their toasted sandwiches. The recently refurbished L&P Cafe also does a good brew.
The Courtyard Cafe — their cheesecake and teacakes are delish.
Best food: The food at One3One Bar Cafe Kitchen is excellent, night or day. For Indian go to Kumars or for Thai go to Thai Sa Was Dee. If you fancy an excellent steak, the recently opened Stone Grill (attached to the Paeroa Hotel) is also creating a buzz.
Wet your whistle: You have two main choices for drinking: One3One Bar Cafe Kitchen or the Paeroa Hotel, aka the Happy Pub, where you'll find old-school charm and accommodation.
Rail good times: The Hauraki Rail Trail is a darling cycle trail covering 82km in total from Thames to Paeroa, Paeroa to Waihi and then back to Te Aroha, and it's the best thing to happen to the district since gold was found — currently averaging 10,000 visitors a month.
Best adventure: Kayak down the Ohinemuri River. Call the Paeroa Information Hub if you're keen and they can help organise it for you.
Float your boat: Take the Tamati Paddle Boat River Cruise. Call first as the tides will dictate when you can travel. The captain gives a fine commentary, and because she sails in and out of Maritime Park you can gather additional history at the museum.
Wildlife: You'll find amazing birdlife plus you can catch brown trout in the river. (Licences can be purchased in town.)
In a nutshell: World Famous in New Zealand.
Thanks to a local secret squirrel who knows everything about Paeroa's nuts and bolts.