The is the History of ‘Coast to Coast Tours’

Donna & Stu Hamilton of Muriwai Beach, Auckland, established the tour company in 2002. It incorporated their sheep farm that dates back to the 1880’s. Stuart’s parents came to this land at Muriwai Beach in 1922 but before this it comprised many thousands of acres and was owned by Sir Edwin Mitchelson, (once a Mayor of Auckland city).

Much of this entire region was dense bush with magnificent Kauri trees. The Kauri was a source of timber, and in those days, much money was made from the timber and its gum. (Kauri gum, sourced from the New Zealand Native Kauri tree, was used for paints and varnishes).

Here is some Kauri gum which was found on the farm. It was dug up about 2 metres below the ground, and it would be many hundreds of years old!

The land where our farm now is, was the most Northern part of “Mitchelson’s Block” and it was a very important piece of land because the road went through so there was easy access to get the timber out. There was also a worker’s cottage; (today this is Donna & Stu’s dining-room, and where the Homestead evolved from!).

After the First World War, Sir Edwin Mitchelson sold all of this land to the New Zealand Government, which they then subdivided, because the Government had a scheme where men who had gone overseas fighting for their country were rewarded with an allocation of land at a low deposit and reduced mortgage rates.

Stuart’s father had fought in the WW1, (Egypt and France) He qualified to purchase such Soldier Settlement land. Arthur and his wife Gertrude, (Stuart’s parents), purchased 200 acres of this land for a farm, in 1922.

Arthur and Gertrude on their wedding day (1922)


TYPICAL temporary dwelling for bush workers.

TYPICAL worker’s cottage dwelling. (Arthur on right)

Haymaking (before tractors!!)

Much of the land was still in scrub and had to be hand cleared to develop it into pasture. It was cultivated using a team of horses…(No tractors and no chainsaws in those times !!). The farm began as a dairy farm but because of climate conditions, it was changed to a sheep farm in 1940. In Maori, MOTUTARA means “a flat area”.

Today, it is still family-owned by Arthur’s son Stu, and Stu’s wife Donna. They have now retired from Coast to Coast Tours, and their farm is no longer open for tours.

Although the farm has recently been reduced to 50 acres, it is still a working farm, and is the only Soldier Settlement farm in the region that is still farmed by direct descendants of these Soldiers! Donna & Stu’s daughter’s help manage the farm today.



Before someone else gets your seat!!