Paeroa is a small town in New Zealand, in the northern Waikato region of the Thames Valley. Located at the foot of the Coromandel Peninsula, it is close to the junction of the Waihou and Ohinemuri Rivers, 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) from the coast at the Firth of Thames. The population is 3900.
Captain James Cook explored the Waihou River in 1779, taking a long-boat up as far as Netherton, just a couple of miles from where the town of Paeroa was built 100 years on.
The area was briefly explored in October 1826 by Captain James Herd, in command of the Lambton and the Isabella (or Rosanna). Herd was sent on an exploratory mission by the first organisation to be known as the New Zealand Company and claimed to have bought one million acres (4000 km²) of land from local Māori in Hokianga and Manukau.
By 1869, anticipating the rush to the Ohinemuri Goldfields, considerable numbers of miners camped at Cashell’s Landing "Puke".[clarification needed]
In 1870, Asher Casserels, a Lithuanian, leased the block of land known as Paeroa from Māori. This included Primrose Hill and most of what is now the town centre.
When James Mackay (surveyor) and Sir David McLean (Minister of Mines) completed negotiations six years later with the Māori Chiefs, Tukukino and Taraia, the fields were declared open. Six hundred miners rushed to Karangahake, considered to be the El Dorado, on March 3, 1875. A canvas town of 1,600 people with about 20 stores and grog shops set the area going. The big gold reefs like Talisman and Crown were discovered but proved hard to work. Heavy machinery required for hard quartz mining had to be brought via the Waihou River and up to Paeroa. The river was the only highway and with two shipping companies in operation, Paeroa became a thriving transport and distribution centre.
When the Northern Steamship Company combined with its opposition, the wharves from near the Bank of New Zealand (Wharf Street) had to be shifted two miles (3 km) downstream in 1892, and eventually to just below Puke Bridge due to the silting from mining operations. A busy freight business developed with four ships regularly running from Auckland to Thames to Paeroa. The Thames Branch railway line reached the town in 1881 and gradually ships gave way to steam, which in turn gave way to road transport. However, as late as 1928, the Waihou River was still navigable for larger ships all the way up to the town, and the Kopu Bridge was therefore constructed as a swing bridge.
When Brenan and Company, the largest horse and wagon operator, moved to trucking, they bought out the steamship company and named their trucks after the ships that plied the Puke River. Waimarie and Taniwha were always painted on the new International or Ford trucks that came into their fleet. When transport operator Sarjant’s amalgamated with Brenan, a large truck centre evolved in Paeroa.
As the passenger rail service dwindled, Paeroa eventually lost its railway, so much of the town had its beginnings in supply and transport to the Hauraki and District. The swings of time have enabled the town to boom and revert a number of times.
Lemon & Paeroa
Paeroa is best known for the soft drink Lemon & Paeroa (L&P) originally produced from the town. The soft drink was originally produced using lemon and carbonated mineral water from Paeroa. Today L&P is owned by Coca-Cola and produced on the same production line as other Coca-Cola products sold in New Zealand.
A large L&P bottle stands on the main road as a landmark in the town of Paeroa. In 1994 L&P ran a series of advertisements based around Paeroa, the advert had locals standing in front of various parts of the town pointing out what the town isn't famous for, for example a local standing in front a 1930s bungalow making the comment "It's not famous for its Hollywood mansions." Landmarks and features in the town included the towns Harbour Bridge (a small single lane bridge), bright lights (a flashing chemist sign), luxury hotels (a local motel), trendy shops (an Op Shop) and Opera House (the back of the local town hall). At the end of each advert a group of people would end by saying "But it is famous" pointing to the landmark L&P bottle in the background. The advert would end with the tag line L&P World Famous in New Zealand. There were 3 separate advertisements all using the song Counting the Beat by The Swingers.   
National Bank Gold Refinery
A historic Paeroa building, in the town centre, is the former National Bank of New Zealand's gold refinery, built in 1914 in Willoughby Street. The building is now a private home and business, hidden from street level view by a ponga fence.
In 1911 the National Bank formed joint venture with the New Zealand Mining Trust and the bank purchased a section with a 97 ft (30 m) frontage by 125 ft (38 m) deep in Arthur Street (now Willoughby Street) for 200 pounds.
By February, 1914, a Ferro-cement building 80 by 40 ft (24 by 12 m), with an iron roof and a 40-foot-tall (12 m) smokestack was completed. Inside was the main refining chamber, two assay offices, weighting room, accounting room, engine and dynamo rooms, two officers' bedrooms, sitting room and bathroom. Detached from the main building was a store room and coal hopper.
At the intersection of State Highways 2 and 26, Paeroa is the central service location for the Hauraki District with the town being a midway stop for those travelling between Auckland and Tauranga/Rotorua. About half way between Auckland and Tauranga, Paeroa is also the southern gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula, the eastern gateway to the Bay of Plenty and the Karangahake Gorge. More recently Paeroa has been the base for many adventurers in and around the Coromandel/Waikato area.
Paeroa is known as the Events Capital of the Coromandel, as well as having a national reputation for horseracing. February is a busy event month in Paeroa and the motorcycle race ‘Battle of the Streets’ and ‘Pipe Band Tattoo’ events both attract participants and crowds from all over New Zealand and overseas.
Paeroa College is a secondary (years 9–13) school with a decile rating of 2 and a roll of 244. The College opened on 5 February 1958, and replaced the Paeroa District High School which had operated from 1902.
Paeroa Christian School is a full primary (years 1–8) state integrated school with a decile rating of 3 and a roll of 46. The school was established in 1987 with the support of local evangelical churches.
All these schools are coeducational.
- Patricia Burns (1989). Fatal Success: A History of the New Zealand Company. Heinemann Reed. ISBN 0-7900-0011-3.
- "Kopu Bridge, SH25". Engineering Heritage Register. Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
- "L&P - World Famous (1990s, New Zealand)". YouTube.
- "the Original World Famous in New Zealand L&P Ad - Paeroa 1994". YouTube.
- "L&P World Famous Hotel". YouTube.
- Te Kete Ipurangi schools database: Paeroa College
- "1958 - 1967". Paeroa College. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- "1875 - 1938". Paeroa College. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- Te Kete Ipurangi schools database: Paeroa Central School
- Te Kete Ipurangi schools database: Miller Avenue School
- "Goldfields School (Paeroa) 23/12/2010". Education Review Office. 23 December 2010.
- Te Kete Ipurangi schools database: Goldfields School
- Te Kete Ipurangi schools database: St Joseph's Catholic School (Paeroa)
- "St Joseph's Catholic School - Paeroa". Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- Te Kete Ipurangi schools database: Paeroa Christian School
- "Past and Present". Paeroa Christian School. Retrieved 12 April 2013.