Introduction

Drive along the edge of the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park and discover historic pack-horse tracks and bush tramways, along with relics from the gold mining and logging era.

Track overview

Paeroa - Waihi: 20 km, Paeroa - Te Aroha: 20 km

About this track

Description

The Kaimai Heritage Trail helps to bring these stories to life in the following locations:

Mining battery remains on show at Karangahake.
Historic features at the entrance to the Windows Walk, Karangahake

Karangahake Gorge and Waikino

The Talisman, Woodstock and Crown mines are accessible via The Windows Walk. These remains are Category I Historic Places. Karangahake also features a cavernous underground pumphouse which is open to the pubic via a tunnel.

The historic railway line from Karangahake to the Victoria Battery and Waikino can be either walked or cycled. At Karangahake, the 1 km long railway tunnel can be seen on a loop walk. Crossing the historic rail bridges at either end of the tunnel completes the railway experience for short stop visitors.

The Martha Mine at Waihi has a long history, and presents a major visitor attraction in its own right.

The huge Victoria Battery complex at nearby Waikino is an historic reserve featuring visitor information and displays. Numerous foundations and other remains can be seen at Victoria Battery, presenting a glimpse of the battery’s original scale. The power Transformer House is a listed building and now serves as a museum. The huge ore roasting kilns have been excavated and protected, and are on show to the visitor. Underground tours and a mining tramway are run on the site by the Victoria Battery Tramway Society.

Find out more about Karangahake Gorge walks

A tramway turntable lies at the heart of the Waitawheta Mill site.
A tramway turntable lies at the heart of the Waitawheta Mill site

Waitawheta Valley

An impressive logging tramway in the Waitawheta Valley was constructed by the Waihi Gold Mining Company and was later extended and developed by the Kauri Timber Company and others. This tramway forms the basis of the Waitawheta Tramway Walk, leading to the site of the historic Waitawheta Mill where remains include timbers, tramway turntables, and the start of the Waipapa Haul Line.

Find out more about the Waitawheta Tramway walk

Butlers incline, Waiorongomai.
Climbing Butler's Incline,
Waiorongomai Valley

Waiorongomai Valley

A courageous public works initiative, the Piako County Tramway, connects the various mines in the Waiorongomai Valley. A series of large inclines are the most impressive features of the tramway which, with associated machinery and building remains, can be explored.

Find out more about Waiorongomail walks

History

The following timeline marks some significant dates in the history of the Kaimai Heritage Trail area.

1875

Hauraki goldfields open (including Karangahake and Waihi areas)

1881

Buck Reef is discovered at Te Aroha starting the Waiorongomai gold rush

1882

Karangahake experiences second gold rush when payable gold is discovered

Quartz crushing begins at Wairongomai

1883

Piako County Tramway opened at Waiorongomai

1884

Tui Mine discovered at Te Aroha

1889

Karangahake sees a breakthrough in gold production when the cyanide process proves successful on low grade ores, a discovery of international significance

1891

Martha Mine opens in Waihi

1896

Waitawheta Forest described by NZ Government as “a magnificent forest” containing 31.5 million feet of timber

1897

Victoria Battery construction commences

1899

Waihi Gold Mining Company loans money to NZ Government to build a railway link through Karangahake Gorge 

1900

Woodstock mining company constructs the large underground pumphouse at Karangahake to clear mines of water

1905

Karangahake Rail Tunnel complete

1910

Kauri Timber Company sends first shipment of logs from Waitawheta

Horahora pylon line marches over Kaimai Range providing power to the goldfields

1924

Waitawheta Mill commences operations in the bush

1927

Waitawheta Mill closes and tramway is dismantled

1946

Waiorongomai mining operations cease

1952

Victoria Battery ceases operations

1978

Rail line through Karangahake Gorge is closed in favour of the newer, faster, Kaimai Tunnel

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Getting there

The Kaimai Heritage Trail is located in the northern Kaimai Range at the southern end of the Coromandel between Paeroa and Waihi.

Kaimai Heritage Trail destinations are accessible via SH2 at Karanagahake and Waikino, and via SH26 at Te Aroha.

All destinations have convenient parking.

Contacts

Tauranga Office
Phone:      +64 7 578 7677
Email:   taurangainfo@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
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