The Karangahake Gorge

The Karangahake Gorge is located 2 hours south of Auckland, just beyond the small town of Paeora. Another hour away to the south, is another favorite New Zealand vacation destination, the village of Hobbiton. We stopped for an hour and selected one of the several trails that are available and totally enjoyed the experience. A nice break on the drive from Auckland to Hobbiton and then onto Rotorua.
Trail Highlights:  

Walking through the Karangahake George is an explorer’s delight. There are a number of gold battery remains along this trail, the places where the extracted ores were once crushed in the search for gold. Everywhere there are the remains of the train tracks that carried the quartz out to the batteries and their steam boilers, no longer producing steam, long abandoned and rusting. Tunnels are dug deep into the mountainside built by pick, shovel and dynamite.

There's an option to walk the length of the 1 mile long tunnel that was started in 1900 and finished in November 1905. It was built to help transport mining materials and gold into and out of the nearby town of Waihi, replacing pack horses with trains. 

The two steel bridges on either end of the tunnel were built and transported from Christchurch in the South Island where today they provide great viewing platforms to the river below. 

The people of Karangahake and the government's Department of Conservation (DOC) are working together to restore some of the old mining sites back to their original working condition with the intention of running daily guided tours through the workings.


One of the two swing bridges that cross the Ohinemuri River.


We particularly enjoyed the option of walking the length of the 1 mile long tunnel, once used by trains for carrying extracted quartz away from the mining sites. This shot was taken about half-way along the tunnel.


Trail History: 

In 1875 gold was first mined in the Karangahake George, a period of gold-rush in the region. Three main ore-crushing batteries, Crown, Talisman and Woodstock once produced 60% of New Zealand's total gold production. Today, in the nearby town of Waihi just 9 miles away, gold is still being mined. 

By 1920, the costs of gold recovery began to outweigh the profits to be made and eventually the main batteries at Karangahake were closed down and partly demolished.

New Zealand Vacations - 

Allow 1 to 2 hours for this stop. There's a large carpark at the start of the trail. You can visit The Karangahake Gorge on many of our suggested New Zealand itineraries, including the 28-day Magnificent New Zealand Self Drive.

Or you can have it included any tailor made vacation itineraries that we create for you. Just let us know of your interest by clicking here.  

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Dec 26, 2016