Voted as one of the 101 Must Do's for Kiwis! Many Kiwis will have driven through the breathtaking Karangahake Gorge but few will have ventured into the walkways, old tunnels and discovered the rich history hidden in the gorge. The Karangahake Gorge historic walkway follows the old Paeroa to Waihi railway line with the remainder of the track following the banks of the Ohinemuri River. Old mine buildings and machinery can be seen from a number of locations on the walkway.
A major highlight of the Hauraki Rail Trail includes riding through the stunning Karangahake Gorge, one of the 14 wonders of New Zealand. The trail follows the path of two historic railway lines, running from Thames to Paeroa and Waikino to Te Aroha, while a new path will link Waikino to Waihi. Cyclists can do the Hauraki Rail Trail from the car park, with connections to Waikino, Paeroa and Te Aroha nearby. Please share with care. Cyclists are kindly asked to dismount in certain areas (check for signage).
Dogs are allowed on the Historic Walkway and the Crown Track to Dickey Flat. Dogs must be kept on leads to ensure a good experience for all visitors. A number of short walks including the Windows Walk and Rail Tunnel Loop as well as the longer walks of Karangahake Mountain and the Karangahake Historic Walkway can all be experienced in the gorge. For details on each the walks, refer to their separate listings.
Mining History ...
The Karangahake Gorge Historical walkway follows part of the old railway line that ran between Paeroa and Taneatua. The line was closed in 1979, allowing the public access to historical sites associated with gold mining from the 1870s through to the 1950s.
The mining heritage sites are concentrated at both ends of the walkway. At the western end they are centred round the confluence of the Waitawheta River at Karangahake, whereas the eastern approach is dominated by the site of the Waihi Gold Mining Company’s massive battery complex (1896-1952) at Waikino.
In the 1890s three large batteries were built at Karangahake to service the Woodstock, Talisman and Crown mines.
The Woodstock Gold Mining Company (GMC) was formed in 1885. It met with little success because of the difficult, refractory nature of the ore despite its high grade. It wasn’t until the introduction of the ‘cyanide’ process in 1894 (developed by the nearby Crown Gold Mining Co in 1889) which greatly improved returns, that the mine developed.
In 1895 the company erected a 40 stamp battery and cyanide plant, as did the Crown (1893), and Talisman Companies (1901).
The remains of four major gold mining sites emphasise the importance of this industry to our early (European) New Zealand economy.