History of Pirongia
Dating back to 1864, the historic township of Pirongia could be considered Te Awamutu’s younger sibling. Smaller, but just as picturesque, the township has a dramatic mountain backdrop, tree-lined streets and boutique cafes and shops. Located on SH 39 the town is fast becoming a popular on-route destination for people travelling between North Island attractions.
Attractions include the Pirongia Visitor Centre, which researches and collects information about the history of the local area. It’s a top spot for those interested in discovering the region’s stories, and complements the nearby Te Awamutu Museum nicely. Pirongia is also home to New Zealand’s oldest existing horse-racing club, and you can enjoy an old-fashioned carriage ride, drawn by the town’s famous Clydesdales, at Pirongia Clydesdales (by prior arrangement). If that’s not enough, why not explore the beautiful countryside surrounding Pirongia. Walks and trails are in abundance throughout this part of the Waikato region.
There are many top walking spots near Pirongia, including the popular Pirongia Forest Park. The forest park is the largest tract of unbroken native bush in the Waikato region and features Mt Pirongia – an extinct volcano. There are a variety of tracks in the park, including a walk to the fascinating Kaniwhaniwha Caves.
If you are looking for great views, hike to the top of Mount Pirongia. The summit offers breath-taking views of nearby Maungatautari Mountain, while Mount Taranaki, Mount Tongariro, and Mount Ruapehu are all visible in the distance. For those looking for a more leisurely walk, the shorter tracks along the base of the mountain are equally as enjoyable.
For more informations on Mt Pirongia walking tracks, visit www.doc.govt.nz
Pirongia Heritage Trail
Pirongia village and Mt Pirongia are among the local sites that feature in the Waipa Heritage Trail. The trail traces the rich history of the Waipa District and explores early Māori and European settlements, battle sites and other places of significance that have shaped this culturally rich and diverse slice of the Waikato region.
The Pirongia Clydesdales are New Zealand’s most recognised and admired team of Clydesdale horses.
A visit to see the Clydesdales is a must if you’re seeking a quintessential New Zealand experience. Horse-drawn carriage rides and picnic trips are available around Pirongia, Te Awamutu and the wider Waikato region. A café, function centre and accommodation are also available in the modern, purpose-built farm stay for those who really love their horses.
Please Note: Activities with and visits to Pirongia Clydesdales are by prior arrangement
Pirongia Artists’ studios
Pirongia has a thriving community of artists and craftspeople who draw their inspiration from the beauty and diversity of the scenic Waikato region. There are a variety of ways to enjoy their work, with the best selection on display every September at the annual Pirongia Craft Day.
If you’re not in town for the market, you can always take a tour of the galleries and studios that are open to the public year round. These include the Birdsong Gallery on Franklin Street and the Baffin Street Gallery, which is a studio, workshop and gallery combined. Both galleries carry artwork and crafts by local artists, as well as those from further afield.
Annual Pirongia Market
Thousands of people come from far and wide to enjoy the fantastic selection of arts and craftwork on display at the annual Pirongia Craft Day. This Pirongia market is held on the first Saturday of the September school holidays and includes plants, food stalls and music. It’s an ideal place to pick up a slice of authentic Kiwiana and is a great day out for families.
Pirongia Boxing Day Races
Every Boxing Day, New Zealand’s oldest racing club, the Alexandra Racing Club, plays host to the Pirongia Boxing Day Races.
After an indulgent Christmas, the Pirongia Boxing Day Races provide the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind with friends and family. Enjoy a flutter on the horses or just soak up the social atmosphere at this iconic Boxing Day tradition which attracts both locals and visitors to the quaint town of Pirongia.