Patea is rich in both Maori and European history. Take a walk through the township and back in time to the days when this was one of the busiest places in southern Taranaki.
Settled by Europeans as a military post back in 1865, Patea was a thriving settlement, with cheese, meat, wool and flax being sent down the river for export. In the 1920s it was the largest cheese exporting port in the world. After the port closed in 1959 (and the freezing works in the 1980s), the town's economy suffered.
When visiting Patea there are many sights to see, places to go and things to do. The hidden treasures of the town offer both a cultural and scenic experience for visitors.
Sing Poi E at the Aotea Waka Memorial
Located in the town centre lies the Aotea Waka monument. It is a memorial to the early Maori settlers who arrived here led by their chief Turi in the great waka (canoe) of the same name. Turi was a skilled navigator and was known as 'Turi He Patea Taipo Moana' which means ‘Turi who gulps the ocean'. Originally landing in Kawhia, the people later moved inland to Taranaki and settled in Patea.
Since Patea Maori Club’s hit single, of course, the memorial has become famous in New Zealand pop culture as the backdrop to the music video, in which the performers twirled poi, marched and breakdanced in front of it (and even on top!). Watch the music video in preparation and see if you can pop it and lock it like Dalvanius Prime’s protégées.
Explore black sand and shipwrecks at Mana Bay
The black beaches of Mana Bay are an interesting sight to see. Derived from the volcanic rocks of Mount Taranaki, black iron-rich sands are found along much of the region’s coastline. As you stroll along the beach you’ll have stunning views of the Tasman Sea.
Another feature of the bay is the remains of the shipwreck S.S Waitangi emerging from the sand. Once used to transport Taranaki meat, the ship ran onto rocks in 1923. High seas and strong winds have exposed the rusted frame of the ship in recent years.
Take a hike on the Rotorangi Hydro Walk
he Rotorangi Hydro walk takes an easy one hour on a clearly laid out track that leads into lush native forest. The walk starts by crossing over the Patea Hydro Dam and provides spectacular views of the largest man-made lake in New Zealand.
The track has some steep gradients, so it pays to sit on the purposely built seats and rest along the way while taking in the natural scenery. Enjoy the black beech trees which have beautiful bright red flowers when in bloom.
Journey through the past at Aotea Utanganui – Museum of South Taranaki
The architecturally designed new district museum was re-built in what was the 1869 general store on Patea’s main street. The new name of the museum, Aotea Utanganui, reflects the connection to the local Maori tribes of South Taranaki.
The museum hosts an archive of district information, articles and items telling the detailed stories of old. The collection includes paintings such as Hay-Campbell and Haddon's "Arrival of Turi". And of course there’s plenty of intel on their most famous sons and daughters, including the Patea Maori Club.
InterCity has daily services to Patea from New Plymouth and Wellington. Find out more at www.intercity.co.nz.