Just 20 km north of Hāwera is Eltham, known as a town of industrial firsts. Chinese businessman Chew Chong exported the country’s first butter from Eltham to England in 1884 and built the first dairy factory in 1887. In 1906 Eltham’s Bridge Street became the first tarsealed road in New Zealand, and claims the first concrete floored cowshed, first use of concrete power poles and the invention of the turnstile cowshed.
Buildings in the town are significant for their architecture and their importance to Eltham’s social and economic history. Eleven of the buildings are registered as significant buildings with the NZ Historic Places Trust. Visitors can stroll through the town, stopping at the Village Art Gallery, cafes, and park while the bargain hunter and curio collector will love the many charming village shops which celebrate the retro past.
In 2009 the Eltham community were proud to provide location sites for the filming of a full-length movie of Ronald Hugh Morrieson’s novel “Predicament”. The film, a comedy crime caper directed by Jason Stutter, required many of the shop frontages to be renovated and repainted and these improvements just add to the appearance of this remarkable little town.