The main township on your way to Leigh, for all your shopping needs.
Warkworth Town Centre
Warkworth township is the turning off point for visitors to Leigh and the Matakana areas. The town has a friendly, country atmosphere that entices locals and visitors to linger and enjoy the variety of cafes. There are real estate offices, banks, two large supermarkets, clothing shops, chemists and a variety of other shops plus an i-site. Many of the buildings date from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
A walkway runs alongside the Mahurangi River from the old road bridge passing Lucy Moore Park. Kowhai trees line the river and are spectacular when they flower in early spring. The path changes to a wooden wharf where there are seats to enjoy the views or have lunch with shady pohutukawa trees. A backdrop of native trees on the northern bank adds to the tranquility. Shags, herons and ducks also enjoy this area.
Often large boats, some historic, such as the Jane Gifford, move up the river at high tide and tie up alongside the wharf. Further down the river is a boat yard and the ruins of the cement works.
Wilson’s Cement Works
Mining of limestone started in 1865 and the cement works opened in 1872 and ran till 1928. The deterioration of the buildings was accelerated during World War Two when they were used for demolition training. The works are now fenced off but are interesting to view. There is a picnic area next to the ruins and a deep quarry where the limestone was mined. This freshwater lake is suitable and popular for swimming. To get there from Warkworth follow Pulham Road and turn left into Wilson Road.
Parry Kauri Park has several large kauri trees thought to be around 6-800 years old. A boardwalk follows the valley through native bush. It is suitable in all weathers and takes about 25 minutes return. Birds include tui, native pegeon, eastern rosellas and kaka. The park is next to the Warkworth Museum. Follow Pulham Rd, turn right into Wilson Rd to Thompson Rd and then left into Tudor Collins Drive.
The Lucy Moore Park is open area with some lovely big trees. You can access it from the end of Baxter St. It is next to the Mahurangi River and has fine views.
The Kowhai Park is at the northern entrance to Warkworth. It has a 45-minute bush walk that passes several historic lime kilns.
Wairere Scenic Reserve, off Falls Rd, west of the town, has short tracks through bush alongside the river.
The annual Warkworth Rodeo is held in January at the showgrounds on State Highway One, just north of Warkworth. The A & P show is a display of animals, produce and farm related events is also held at the showgrounds during January.
The Warkworth Kowhai Frestival is held during October each year coinciding with the brilliant display of the yellow kowhai flowers. It includes a Huge Day Out with entertainment, Dog Show, Canoe Showdown and market stalls. www.kowhaifestival.nz
The Jane Gifford is the country’s last remaining rigged sailing scow. Scows were important for navigating the narrow tidal estuaries and creeks when the first settlers arrived. They are flat-bottomed and can rest upright making it easy to load and unload.
This scow built in 1908 at the Darroch yard at Whangateau was used to take granite from mines in Coromandel to Auckland. The Jane Gifford Trust purchased the boat in 2001 and initially started restoration but had a lack of funds. In 2005 some Warkworth residents purchased the Jane Gifford to save her from rotting and moved her back to Warkworth. After a lot of hard work the vessel was relaunched in May 2009.
Check the Jane Gifford website to see when boat trips are running. Trips travel from Warkworth down the Mahurangi River. www.janegifford.org.nz
Warkworth and Districts Museum
The museum has many exhibits from Warkworth’s pioneering days. They include the original Mahurangi Heads Post Office (1867), the town’s jail (1912) and an American Army Hut from World War Two.
To get to the museum which is next to the Parry Kauri Park, follow Pulham Rd, turn right into Wilson Rd to Thompson Rd and then left into Tudor Collins Drive.
History of Warkworth
The town, founded in 1853, was originally called Brown’s Mill. John Brown travelled up the Mahurangi River by whaleboat and had to stop by the weir where the road bridge in Warkworth now stands. He purchased land for the town and drew up a subdivision plan. As the area was similar to his home town in England he named it Warkworth.
In these early days the land was covered in kauri forest and sawmilling was the first industry until the land was burnt and cleared for farming. Brown’s sawmill was built on the western side of the river and a flour mill was built on the opposite side.