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Karangahake School and District 70th Jubilee 1889-1959

Volume 2 of the "The Cyclopedia of New Zealand" published in 1902 gives this interesting information:

"Ohinemuri Coaching Company Limited (M. Munro, Manager) Branch, Main St., Karangahake. The premises occupied by this Branch comprise a stable of 20 stalls, an office, and a waiting room. The office serves as the Paeroa - Karangahake terminus and as the changing place for the Waihi and Tauranga Coaches. Ten coaches leave and arrive daily and there are extra ones on Saturday. The Company has a large and complete plant of buggies and saddle horses which are available for hire at any time."

However, we have data of even earlier days. It seems that a mail coach service from Thames to Tauranga, via Paeroa and Waihi, started on 1st January, 1884. The coach left Thames at 6 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and arrived at Tauranga the same evening at 6 o'clock. The return trips were done on alternate days, but of course horses were changed en route. Even so, it must have been a marathon effort, especially when one considers the steepness of the grades, the sometimes flooded fords, and the fact that the main road then was over the Rahu Hills to Owharoa. In 1886, Bradley and Company opened a local service, between Paeroa and Waihi and this made connections with other services.

The first mentioned Coaching Syndicate was formed in 1899 with a capital of £4392 and Mr Geo. Crosby of Paeroa as Managing Director. He had already built the Royal Mail Hotel and had so named it because he then had the contract for carrying the King's mails from Rotorua to Paeroa. Mr Short was the General Manager there, and afterwards bought the business and employed Mr W. Medhurst as manager.

The main objects of the Company were "to establish and maintain a regular service of coaches and buggies between the townships of Waihi, Waitekauri, Karangahake and Paeroa, and to open livery and bait stables at such places for the letting or hire of buggies and saddle horses, for the accommodation of the travelling public." The Company conducted business successfully till after the opening of the railway.

Most of the drivers of those days achieved a degree of fame, not only because of their skill on rough roads, but also because of their pleasant geniality. Names such as George Smith, Mick Crosbie, Ernie Fathers, Shorty Moore and Maurice Crimmins recall memorable personalities.