Learn about Opera Point Pa, a good example of a headland pa, and Craig’s Sawmill in the Opera Point Historic Reserve.

Opera Point Pa, c1700

The pa is one of several Maori sites that occupy Te Rehutae, the north head of Whangapoua Harbour.  While the features are somewhat obscured, it is a good example of a headland pa site in a fantastic coastal setting.   

Originally the domain of Ngati Huarere, the pa and surrounding area appear to have been abandoned following seaborne raids in 1818 by Ngapuhi, from Northland. 

The pa site from the sawmill site.  Photo: Melanie Charters.
The pa site from the sawmill site

The track up to the pa makes its way through dense bush, nikau palms, and ancient pohutukawa.  Near the highest point on the headland the track crosses some terraces and the ditch and bank defences of the pa.  At the summit you will be rewarded with excellent coastal views.  Please note that this is not an official DOC track.  DOC is planning to upgrade the track as currently it is steep in sections and becomes muddy and slippery after rain. 

Craig’s Sawmill, 1862

In 1862 Thomas Craig acquired timber cutting rights on 8,000 acres in the nearby Optonui valley from the Maori owners and established the mill on the flat at the western end of Opera Point.  In pre-European times Maori would have beached their waka here.

The view over the pa site from the summit of the headland.  Photo: Melanie Charters.
The view over the pa site from the
summit of the headland

There is little left to see of the mill now; the most visible feature being a concrete-lined channel (probably used to dispose of the sawdust). The track passes by this feature as it follows the gentle grade of the old sawmill tramway from the car park to a pleasant beach and the site of the mill.   

Getting there

Opera Point is off State Highway 25 between Coromandel and Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula.  At Te Rerenga take the turn off to Whangapoua and proceed to the DOC car park. 

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