Thames: A Weekend Retreat
Are you in need of a not-far-away weekend getaway? Often overlooked by it’s better known beach-bordered neighbours, you’ll be surprised to discover Thames is a town of hidden treasure. It’s worth taking your time to acquaint yourself with its charms. When you do, you’ll discover a genuine, year-round, surprisingly modern community, where care for the environment and its people are paramount.
Grafton Cottage & Chalets is the ideal place to base yourself during your weekend getaway in Thames. Only an hour’s drive from Auckland, you’ll soon be spending your Friday night soaking up the spectacular sunset and sea views afforded by this panoramic peaceful setting overlooking Thames township.
Boasting a high quality range of specialty food supply stores, a good option is to buy your own ingredients on arrival in Thames and prepare a feast on the barbecue at your chalet. Pick up fresh fish from Thames Fisheries, fresh produce from The Green Grocer and delicious wholefood accompaniments from Re-Store and you’ll soon begin to feel the nourishing effects of a winter weekend in Thames.
Spend Saturday morning meandering along the main street market, losing yourself in the surprising delights of its many boutiques, shops and galleries. Thames’ food scene and retail outlets are outward expressions of the diversity, interests and ethics of its people; from eco food markets, to indigenous arts to friendly general supplies stores.
Recently relocated from The Depot to a standalone premises opposite Thames Hospital is Bite Cafe; the perfect spot for homemade gourmet goodies including cakes, pastries and a mouth watering dine-in menu. They’re open on Saturdays, but closed Sundays, so don’t make the regrettable mistake of missing out.
It could be argued that Thames is leading the way in a retail revitalisation on The Coromandel. Recent art and design stores to open in Thames include Huia Design Store, specialising in Aotearoa Design, and Arohart, an authentic Maori art gallery. The long established Bounty Store is another excellent design destination, showcasing NZ and Pacific art and craft.
Mainly Casual offers an unrivaled selection of contemporary New Zealand designed fashion suitable for women of all ages and occasions. Kayla Thames is another rare gem of a fashion find in Thames. It is the sister store to the well known Millies on Main Street, Tairua, and stocks some of NZ and Australia’s best known designers.
Carson’s Bookshop is open until 3pm on Saturdays, which is a good thing because you’ll want to take your time after a leisurely lunch. As one of the area’s last remaining independent bookshops, this iconic Thames legacy just keeps getting better. With an extensive selection of fiction, non-fiction, magazines and children’s books and an adjacent cafe and gallery, you will not leave empty handed, and the experience of spending a Saturday afternoon browsing in a truly good bookshop will leave you feeling literary and intellectually sated - though possibly in need of caffeine. An afternoon pick me up at Coco Coffee Bar will leave you seriously considering a permanent seachange...the staff are that friendly. The coffee is that good.
Thames is a town located within a diverse natural landscape, nestled between the still waters of the Firth and the bush covered ranges of Coromandel Forest Park. If an afternoon sleep or an indulgent treatment at Pamper Me medi-spa doesn’t appeal on your winter weekend getaway, rug up and step out along the many scenic walkways and trails around the town.
Thames is a great place for a good old fashioned date night; try dinner at the outstanding eatery Gastronomics and a movie at the nostalgic Embassy Cinema before retiring to your secluded accommodation high above the town.
Sunday Brunch at Cafe Melbourne is a must and their new winter menu is sure to delight even the fussiest of appetites. Cafe Melbourne artfully combines its spacious industrial setting with friendly service and stylish decor, making it a winning destination for locals and visitors alike. Located in the same building at The Depot, Savour and Spice is a kitchenware shop for passionate foodies and well worth a visit to stock up on spices and hard to find food products before returning home.
Rich in history, art and culture, Thames’ understated charms are so endearing, they can no longer be kept a secret. When the snow’s no good and the city’s too bleak to speak of, do yourself a favour and slip away to Thames for a rejuvenating winter weekend. You’ll be glad you did.