Thames is also your access point to the Kauaeranga Valley. To get there from Thames, take the Parawai Road which turns into the Kauaeranga Road. There's a DOC office along the way for your hut tickets, maps and more info. There are a number of walks open to you in the area which were once part of the Kauri Trail. A loop track from DOC, 4km/1hr, will take you to a kauri driving dam, a typical construction purpose built to let out water with great force to transport the timber to nearby rivers or creeks.
If you take the walks along the Kauri Trail you'll get to see native specialities like the rata, kauri and rimu. One short track worth taking is the Billygoat Landing and Falls, 180m, 1.5km/20mins. If you don't mind a little climbing, the Pinnacles is definitely a worthwhile walk. You'll reach the summit at 759m after a steep climb through regenerating bush. The view extends to the Coromandel coastline, to the mountains and bush. The Pinnacles Hut sleeps 80 and costs $12. (6km/4hr one way).