Latest News & Public Notices

Thames Airfield development – Stage One cleared for take-off – and other economic development news

16 December 2020

As the year comes to an end, we look back and see the immense changes and challenges our community - and economy - has had to face this year.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support our local businesses – both big and small. In this edition of our Council's Economic Development update, we profile another local business setting up a new tourism venture just in time for summer. 

And while we head into the Christmas period feeling optimistic, we must remain vigilant as the remainder of the world works to bring the COVID-19 virus under control. 

In this newsletter:

  • Thames Airfield Development - Stage One cleared for take-off
  • Future Development Plans for Thames Airfield
  • Whitianga Waterway Cruises - a new venture
  • Quarterly Economic Data Update - Te Waka
  • Hauraki Rail Trail - A bike to win
  • Pauanui Resort Scoops High End National Award
  • Kōpū Business and Marine Services Precinct Update
  • Transport Investment Plan supported by Council
  • Additional Capacity and Connectivity Over the Holiday Season
  • i-SITEs and Visitor Centre Hours

Thames Airfield Development - Stage One cleared for take-off

Our Council is calling for expressions of interest from those in the aviation community who may be interested in leasing hangar spaces at Sir Keith Park Memorial Airfield in Thames.

The sites initially available to be leased will be H1 to H5, H7 and H8 on the development plan. Hangar sites H9 to H16 will later become available, as will 20 residential hangar sites and land for commercial activity.

Right now, we want to gauge the level of interest for the six hangars, along with potential ideas for development. A formal tendering process for the six hangars starts Monday 7 April 2021. 

This is Stage One of development for the airfield, which is focused on lease sites for hangars only. The second stage will involve establishment of accommodation hangars and commercial activities.

In keeping with the airfield designation of the land under our Council’s District Plan, all activities in the airfield precinct, including accommodation hangars and commercial development, must be aviation-related.

This is a highly exciting development for the airfield and for Thames,” says our Mayor Sandra Goudie. “Council staff have been working very closely with airfield users to get the conditions right for the airfield to be used to its maximum potential. We’re cleared for takeoff!”

Register your interest

Send your expression of interest in leasing space for an aircraft hangar by 22 January 2021 to Erin Bates, our Council’s District Placemaking Manager and Thames Area Manager, by email via or call on 07 868 0200.

Future Development Plans for Thames Airfield

Thames airfield aerial view

(Photo - Aerial view of Thames Airfield)

Infrastructure including a small internal roading network, parking, water, wastewater and stormwater control will be done in future stages. 

Development and design guidelines for the airfield are being prepared.  This is to ensure that new building development is consistent in all aspects of design and aesthetics. 

The principles for airfield development will be:

  • Integrating new development into the landscape and setting
  • Building lines, styles and features
  • Honest materials and local colours
  • Scale, massing and height

Our Council has updated the Thames Airfield Master Plan to provide a vision for the future development of the airfield. The update included a review of the Civil Aviation Authority regulatory framework under which the airfield currently operates and how that could change in the future, and advice on the types and scale of practical and realistic future airfield activities. 

Key land-use planning elements such as Obstacle Limitation Surfaces (OLS), Aircraft Noise implications and Building Induced Wake Effect in relation to suggested developments were looked at, and the airfield Master Plan layout, which allocated spaces for various land uses and activities (aeronautical and non-aeronautical), indicating primary infrastructure elements such as runways, taxiways, aprons, main roads and existing facilities was reviewed.

Airbiz Aeronautical carried out this review.

Since that review, our Council has updated the airfield designation to meet our District Plan’s requirements for future development.

You can keep up to date with the development here on our website. 

Thames airfieldAbout Thames Airfield

Thames is the key service town for our district and much of the Hauraki Plains and is little more than a one-hour drive from Auckland and Hamilton – or about 15 minutes by plane. Tauranga is less than two hours by car.

Thames Airfield, formally known as Sir Keith Park Memorial Airfield, is one of several small airfields on the Coromandel serving the needs of the aviation community through the region.  The proximity to Ardmore, the wider Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions, and the Hauraki Gulf Islands of Waiheke and Great Barrier make Thames both a great base for aircraft owners and for those transiting the region.

Our Council is the owner and operator of the airfield and it’s available for general use. 

The airfield hosts commercial helicopter operations, the Thames Air Cadets and it’s a great site for skydiving, gliding and flying instruction.

The main north-south runway is 1,112m long and the secondary east-west runway is 707m long. Both are grassed. Fuel pumps dispense Jet A1 and Avgas 100.

For more information on Thames Airfield, go to our website here

Whitianga Waterway Cruises - a new venture 

Jeremy and louise lomas beside boat

(Photo: Jeremy and Louise Lomas standing beside their boat, the Mercury Star)

We're excited about another new business venture that's starting up this summer. Jeremy and Louise Lomas, from Hahei, purchased the Whitianga Ferry Service about three years ago and have been running it ever since. This summer they're offering a cruise up Whitianga river and waterway. As a former America's Cup sailor for Team New Zealand, Jeremy plans to skipper the boat himself, as much as he can, and is excited about this new venture. 

One of their boats, the Mercury Star, is not regularly used for the ferry service and often sits around, so they have come up with a way to better utilise all their resources. 

"We've come up with an alternative service for one of our boats, as a tourist craft to travel the Whitianga estuary and waterways, which are both calm, peacful and beautiful parts of Mercury Bay that could be better explored," says Jeremy. 

The Whitianga Waterway Cruise will run from the Whitianga Wharf and travel through the estuary. With an affordable price and difference in scenery, Jeremy and Louise want to provide a service that caters to everyone. 

the mercury star

The Mercury Star (pictured above) has capacity for 30 guests. The tour lasts one hour and 20-minutes, making the most of the time and giving customers a great experience taking them past historical landmarks and luxury lifestyle properties. If you are lucky, you'll see wildlife such as shag colonies, seabirds and occasionally dolphins and orcas who enjoy cruising the estuary.

The first cruise will be on Friday 18 December, with one or two cruises each day. The Lomas's plan to see what demand is like before making any long-term adjustments.

There won't be any changes to the already existing Whitianga ferry service. If you are heading to Whitianga this summer, check them out. To find out more information about the Whitianga Waterway Cruises, or to book, visit their website

You can contact them on, 021 269 1136, or find them here on Facebook.

Quarterly Economic Data Update - Te Waka

Te Waka is our Regional Economic Development Agency, with the purpose of driving economic growth throughout the wider Waikato region. As well as helping business reach their economic goals, Te Waka monitors the economic statistics and growth of the Waikato, producing regular newsletters and reports. 

To know more about Te Waka or to see what support they offer, visit their website here.

The latest statistics provided by Te Waka below (September - December 2020 period) are for the Waikato region (including the Coromandel) as well as wider NZ economy.

The latest data shows total consumer spending has been down across the Waikato region for the month of November, as shown in the graph below. With summer upon us, we hope more people continue to go out and explore everything the Waikato has to offer, supporting local business and tourism operators.

(Source: Marketview Data)

Other statistics given in the Te Waka economic update:

  • The unemployment rate has remained below 4 per cent (one of the lowest in the country) in the September quarter, while rising to 5.1 per cent for the whole country.
  • Provision of accommodation supplements has shown a slow decrease since October; however, the provision of special food grants has continuously increased since September.
  • Residential building consents have been down significantly on last year for most of 2020.
  • After trading in a narrow range for months, the NZD exchange rate has broken higher, and now sits at its highest level (on a trade-weighted basis) since March 2019.
  • NZ’s exports continue to perform well relative to previous years.

You can read the full report here.

Hauraki Rail Trail - A bike to win

hauraki rail trail sign

(Photo - section of the Hauraki Rail Trail that goes through Thames)

The Hauraki Rail Trail is open and operating under Level 1 protocols, welcoming summer visitors. The Trail includes one of NZ’s oldest railway corridors and consists of five different sections between Kaiaua and Matamata. Going through Thames, you can see everything the Coromandel has to offer from stunning scenery, tranquil farmland and tasty cheese and wine offerings with local cafes and eateries.

There are many Trail options — day and multi-day rides — catering for all ages and biking abilities. The temperate climate on the Coromandel and Hauraki Plains makes for a perfect riding experience.

You can find out more about the different trail sections and packages on the Hauraki Rail Trail website here

It's Competition Time

Hauraki Rail Trail has teamed up with JollyBikes in Thames for a competition that is hotter than ever before. The prize - an Avanti Explorer E2 e-Bike valued at $4,699.

The e-Bike has a powerful Bosch electric motor with pedal-assist, hydraulic disc brakes, a lightweight frame, rear carrier racks, full fenders, sturdy kickstand and e-Bike battery powered lights...and you have the chance to win it.

Every week for six weeks, entrants will have an opportunity to answer three Quiz Questions each week. You are only required to enter once; however, you can raise your chances of winning by entering every week. The Quiz Entry Forms will feature on the Hauraki Rail Trail website home page

You can find out more about the competition, and enter here

Biking is a great way to explore more of the stunning Coromandel over summer. Find out what JollyBikes has to offer here

Pauanui Resort Scoops High End National Award

(Photo: Puka Park Resort - photo credit: Puka Park Resort)

When measured against high-profile New Zealand luxury lodges, The Coromandel's Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort came out on top at Hospitality Management's glittering awards night held in Sydney last Friday - winning the New Zealand Lodge award.

Winners over several categories were announced at the black-tie event with 216 people in attendance and over 2,000 virtual attendees. The 18th HM Awards recognised the biggest and brightest stars in the accommodation industry across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

Built by local developer Rainer Hoehn, Puka Park lies secluded in native bush on the northern slopes on Mount Pauanui with views over the village, estuary and out to Slipper Island. Rainer succeeded in creating a signature Kiwi experience with world-class service and eco-inspired, culturally inclusive design. More than 30 years later, Puka Park, now in the Grand Mercure stable of international hospitality company Accor, continues to deliver on the vision.

While the resort amenities, including tennis courts, gym facilities, spa and heated outdoor pool cater to every type of holiday expectation, it's the service that stands out. "We are very proud of our beautiful property and we are delighted to take out this award," says general manager Mareile Jerosch-Hoehn. "But in the end, our guests love the personal service. We are part of a large international group, but our team gives the feeling of being at home. Yes, our guests expect all the amenities of a top resort, and we take care of every detail, but everyone wants to feel special.  We take the time to find out what that means for each guest. That is true luxury."

As everyone knows this has been a very tough year for business, but Grand Mercure Puka Park has kept the team together and made it through the winter. "Normally we would have a large international staff in place by now, ready for summer, but this year that is simply not possible,” says general manager Mareile.

Grand Mercure Puka Park remains the premium resort accommodation in The Coromandel, and with its 48 private chalets nestled in the bush, one of the regions' largest and an important destination for international guests. It is also the region's only 4.5-star Qualmark-rated property.

However, the fact that Puka Park won the award from industry peers over contenders Huka Lodge, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers and Wharekauhau Country Estate, is perhaps their greater claim to fame.

To find out more about this award-winning location, or to book a stay, visit the website here

Kōpū Business and Marine Services Precinct Update

We now have a final detailed concept plan of the Kōpū Business and Marine precinct, thanks to all the feedback and discussion with users and stakeholders, to get to this position.

The final design for the facility will see the commercial wharf and recreational boat ramp relocated 20m to the north.  The recreational boat ramp retains a central pontoon system but has been widened and shortened. Why?

  • The width has been increased to be more user-friendly while the length has been shortened to match the length of the existing commercial slipway. 
  • It reduces costs (cost/benefit)
  • It’s what existing users are currently familiar with.
  • It will be accessible during most of the tidal range but is below Mean Low Water Springs (MWLS). The terrain is relatively flat here, so it won’t take long until the ramp is accessible.

We've now lodged a resource consent, using the government’s fast-track process. You can read more about the fast-track process here

You can read more information about the project here

Transport Investment Plan supported by Council

Our Council has endorsed a Transport Investment Plan looking at how our transport network could be used to stimulate the economy and create an increasingly prosperous district. You can read it here.

The plan identifies a list of potential initiatives/projects which could be pursued – provided it has full investment from external funding channels.These initiatives are around walking, cycling, district signage/wayfinding and a freight hub.  None of the initiatives in the Transport Plan have any budget allocated in the upcoming 2021-2031 Long Term Plan, but could be put forward for opportunities through government funding if, and when, they are made available.

The Transport Plan sits within our Economic Development’s Productivity Plan “Connected Journeys” workstream. You can read more on our website here

Additional Capacity and Connectivity Over the Holiday Season

spark logoSpark has increased its efforts for digital connectivity (coverage and capacity) across the Coromandel area over the holiday period.

There will be a temporary facility in the Tairua area (as in previous years), which will support the influx of holiday makers as well as providing additional support and greater connectivity to Pauanui. There will also be new temporary infrastructure in areas of Whangamatā (again, as in previous years).
Installation has started with the facilities remaining until after the peak holiday season. 

The sites are 3G and 4G sites and will assist with the additional demand placed on an already overloaded network.

Spark made a very conscious decision to install these temporary sites without any proactive communication locally – these sites are critical to ensuring that those that want to have access to robust broadband and voice calling services can.

They have also completed an aggressive network upgrade programme across Spark's infrastructure in the Coromandel region in an effort to manage the ever-increasing demand on services. 

You can find out more about Spark here

i-SITEs and Visitor Centre Hours

i-siteIf you need any information about the Coromandel, please visit or call any one of our I-SITEa or visitor information centres. You can find information here.