Whangaparapara was in industrial centre on Great Barrier Island for mining, timber milling and whaling.
Gold and silver were discovered in the late 1800s. The Oreville stamping (ore crushing) battery is still a prominent landmark on the Whangaparapara Road.
The Kauri Timber Company sawmill was based in Whangaparapara and processed logs from the Coromandel and Northland in the early 1900s and at the time it was the largest mill in the southern hemisphere.
The remains of New Zealand’s last whaling station can also be seen on the northern side of Whangaparapara Harbour which operated from 1957 to 1962.
One of the anchors off the SS Wiltshire can be seen on the grounds of Great Barrier Lodge. The Wiltshire was wrecked on a rocky cliff face at Rosalie Bay on the southern end of Great Barrier Island in 1922.