Matamata Heritage Trail
Behind the Information Centre
After the opening in 1855 of the Thames Valley Railway line, which passed through Matamata, a plantation of deciduous trees (oak, larch, chestnut and ash) was planted near the railway station. This was to provide a shelter belt and wooden sleepers for use in the future railway line. Plantations were established near other railway stations but Matamata’s is the sole survivor in this area. Some of the trees in the railway plantation have been removed over the years; those that remain provide a magnificent backdrop for the town and are registered in Council’s District Plan.
Return to the Information Centre turn right into Broadway
In 1928 central grass plots were formed from the railway line to Meura Street with a metalled and later sealed roadway on each side. At this time it was called Tower Road. A Beautifying Society, formed in 1929, planted weeping elms, oaks, limes and chestnuts on the grass plots and changed the name to Broadway. Later, trees were planted at the sides of the roadway beyond Meura Street to the Crossroads corner. In the 1960s central plots were continued and the trees transplanted there.
Walk along Broadway and turn right into Arawa Street
An agency of the Bank of New Zealand first came to Matamata in 1906. An independent branch opened in 1919 when a neoclassical building was erected at a cost of nearly 20,000 pounds. Extensive alterations were made in 1951 and in 1966, including converting the upstairs living quarters for the manager into office space. In 1975 further alternations and refurbishment took place. It was probably at this time that the main entrance was changed from a central position to the eastern side of the front of the building.
In 1997 the Bank of New Zealand building was sold. Interior alterations were carried out and it opened as a restaurant. The former bank is registered as a Category 2 building by Historic Places Trust and it is on Schedule 1 of the Historic Sites on the Matamata-Piako District Plan.
Continue along Arawa Street, cross it to the other side. Continue until you reach Bedford Park.
Early in 1931, brothers A and E Bowler, pioneer farmers of the district, donated seven acres of land for use as a rugby and cricket ground to be named Bedford Park in honour of their birthplace in England. Control was vested in representatives of the cricket club and rugby union.
In 1953 four more acres were added on the southern boundary. In 1984 the Matamata Cricket Association moved to Pohlen Park and the Rugby Union has been the sole user. London plane trees in the park are listed in the Council’s district plan.
Turn back and enter Centennial Drive at the Tainui Street Entrance
In 1961 a 13 ton rock of Ongatiti Ignimbrite, or Hinuera Stone (age 1 million years), was brought from Taotaoroa (in the Hinurea Valley) to the entrance of the Drive. A lily pond was constructed around this central feature. A plaque commemorating the Maori, missionaries and early settlers of the Matamata District was unveiled in December 1964. In 1985 a fountain was installed in the pool to mark the fiftieth jubilee of the Matamata Borough Council.