Topic: Wharf Street, Tauranga (est. 1875)

Topic type:

Tauranga's Wharf Street was established in 1875. In 2015 the street underwent a major revamp into a dining precinct. Over 500 railway sleepers from the old Matapihi Railway bridge were water-blasted to create themed furniture. Text: Stephanie Smith. Photos: Debbie McCauley.

Looking wrong? See archived version here.

Wharf Street 2015 - Deb M (35)


Wharf Street 2015 - Deb M (28)

There were constant complaints about the drainage of the road surface and the state of the footpaths. Shells were laid on the footpaths in 1876, but that was far from being a permanent cure, and complaints persisted for many years. A letter to the Borough Council from shop owner Mr Munro in 1913 stated that ‘the lower portion of the street has diagonal watercourses every few yards and presents the appearance of the waves of a stormy sea’ (Bay of Plenty Times, 29 August 1913, page 7). Six years later Wharf Street was still ‘not fit to drive over’ (November 1919).


Wharf Street 2015 - Deb M (41)

Established in 2015 the Wharf St Dining Precint is a collaborative initiative between businesses, property owners and city centre partners who saw an opportunity to transform the area into a dining precint that uniquely combines art, culture and cuisine. Themed to complement the heritage of Wharf St this is a place to meet, dine, relax, engage, be inspired and enjoy. Welcome to the Wharf Street Dining Precint... created for you. 


Wharf Street 2015 - Deb M (16)


Wharf Street 2015 - Deb M (1)

In Wharf Street in the 1910s you could have your suit altered at Mr Lyford's the tailor's, then get it dyed 'to look like new' at Tauranga Dyeworks. You could book your place on a service car to Rotorua or Matamata with Mr Baigent the agent. You could shop for plants and 'fancy goods', have a singing lesson from Mr Meadows the former opera singer, and buy chocolate from Mr Whitaker. You could alter your will at Sharp, Tudhope, and have your teeth fixed by Mr Poole the dentist, and if your jaw wasn't hurting too much afterwards you could partake of refreshments at the Windsor (later the Empress) Tearooms. Then you could round off the day by going to the pictures at the Town Hall: the films were all silent, of course, enlivened by the music of the hard-working Borough Council pianist. Photo: Wharf Street (03-429), Henry Winkelmann postcard of Wharf Street, Tauranga, c 1910s, showing Hartley's drapery.


Wharf Street 2015 - Deb M (26)


Wharf Street 2015 - Deb M (11)

In 1871 the Town Wharf was constructed just off the eastern end of Wharf Street. Renamed the Coronation Pier in 1937 to celebrate coronation of George VI, it was rebuilt and extended in 1951-1952, and again in the late 1950s. In 2007 it was demolished.

Before the development of road and rail transport, the wharf was a vital link between Tauranga and the rest of the country. Steamships would deliver intrepid tourists to the wharf and from there they would embark on another boat trip to Maketu. Then it was a stage-coach trip across the hills to see and smell the attractions of Rotorua.

As the land was cleared and dairying developed on Matakana Island, the cream launch Awhitu used to service the farms from the pier, and Faulkner's Ferries rand from here for sixty years. Apparently the Mount was 'dry' in the early years, and alcohol was despatched from Guinness Brothers on The Strand to Coronation Pier and delivered to the thirsty inhabitants of Mount Maunganui.

During World War II, aerodrome staff and trainee airmen used the pier to travel between Tauranga and the aerodrome at Mount Maunganui. Later, when our national defence frigates visited the harbour, their patrol boats tied up at Coronation Pier. [Based on Memories of Coronation Pier, Robin Grierson].


Wharf Street 2015 - Deb M (31)


Wharf Street 2015 - Deb M (18)

 In spite of the variety of goods and services on offer, Wharf Street at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th was still a hybrid of town and country. The main focus of Tauranga business life was still The Strand, and the town was just beginning to creep up the slope towards Cameron Road. On the one hand, Wharf Street featured some imposing bank buildings such as the Bank of New Zealand, built in 1876 in the ‘Italian’ style, and the 1914 Bank of Australasia, and later, Munro’s shops faced with granite imported from Australia and Sweden. The Town Hall, built 1914-1916, had a major frontage on Wharf Street, though the ‘Renaissance’-style building was criticised for lurking in its ‘Gallipoli bunker’, excavations having been necessary to allow for the slope of Wharf Street. Solicitors, architects, and dentists had their rooms on the street, and there were residential properties also. On the other hand, the professionals had to rub shoulders with a shooting gallery, a livery stable business, and an electricity substation, and there remained, especially at the western end, open paddocks with overgrown macrocarpa hedges and gorse. 


Wharf Street 2015 - Deb M (38)


Wharf Street 2015 - Deb M (23)

 In 1911 William Charles Berridge offered a donation of Californian fan palms, which were used to ‘beautify’ Wharf Street. The scheme did not meet with universal approval. Letters to the editor complained about the wooden cages around the palms, both their ugly bulk and their potential to obstruct traffic and cause accidents. The cages were to protect the young trees from the cows which were allowed to roam the streets, grazing wherever they wished (and keeping the Council’s grass verges mown for free) if their owners paid ten shillings a year.  Mr Munro wrote again to the Council in 1919, objecting to the cows’ ‘visits to Wharf Street to satisfy their bovine curiosity by gazing in the plate glass windows of my shops’ (Bay of Plenty Times, 13 June 1919, page 3). He was not the only one to object, as the cows blocked doorways, tripped people up, and chomped on whatever they could reach including greengrocers’ displays and prized garden blooms, but it was 1932 before Tauranga streets were officially cleared of livestock.


Random Acts of Reading 2015 - Deb M (59)


Wharf Street 2015 - Deb M (7)

The Strand, commercial heart of the early settlement of Tauranga, was originally just a beach - it was even called 'The Beach' or 'Beach Street'. Goods were loaded and unloaded on the sand at low tide until the Town Wharf was built in 1871. Renamed the Coronation Pier in 1937, it was a vital transport link for many years. Before the railway went through to Auckland in 1928 most visitors to Tauranga arrived by passenger steamer, and even after that the pier remained important for local transport.

From 1909 to 1969 Faulker's Ferries ran from this wharf. There were about nine boats in Faulkner's fleet, which played a big part in the development of Mount Maunganui and further up the coast, as roads were still few and poor. Food stores, fencing gear, fertiliser - all were ferried up the different estuaries to the pioneering farmers as far away as Waihi. These vessels were also involved in the transport of workers and equipment from Armstrong's workshop at Mount Maunganui to forge the East Coast rail link in the 1920s. [Based on Memories of Coronation Pier, Robin Grierson]. Photo: Wharf Street c 1914 (00-353) Looking down Wharf Street from its intersection with Willow Street, c 1914. The steamer from Auckland is alongside the Tauranga town wharf.



This page archived at Perma Cc in September of 2016:

Discuss This Topic

There are 1 comments in this discussion.

Read and join this discussion

join this discussion

Wharf Street, Tauranga (est. 1875)


Latitude and Longitude coordinates: -37.6834642,176.16735229999995

javascript needs to be on to use Google Maps