Gold, Forests, Rivers, Tunnels and Mines

During the 1860’s New Zealand was at the centre of a gold rush. About an hour’s drive from Tauranga, in a gap between the Kaimai Ranges and the Coromandel, lies Karangahake Gorge, once the home to a gold mining settlement of over 2,000 people. Now all that is left are the remains of machinery and stamper batteries often overgrown by regenerating forest. In places you expect to see Indiana Jones emerging from the bushes.

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It’s a day with great walks, old tramlines, railway tunnels, mining tunnels which you can explore (with a torch), rivers, forest and a sense of an age gone passed.  It’s a photographer’s paradise.

Before you head home, there a chance to see a huge open cast mine at Waihi. Time permitting, we can drive to Bowen Town for more magnificent views from the top of an extinct volcano’s magma chamber.

Summary

  • Pick up from the port area
  • Transport in a small air-conditioned mini bus with a full commentary from your professional guide
  • Hear about New Zealand’s unique ecology created by 80 million years of isolation and how gold was formed in the area. Learn about the miners from Cornwall and how they sometimes deliberately cut off their thumbs to get a disability pension.
  • Explore the stunning Karangahake Gorge and the confluence of the Ohinimuri and the Waitewheta rivers as you cross the them by suspension bridges. We will supply torches so you can then follow the old tram track, through the Windows’ Walk into the old mine workings.
  • After, weather permitting, you might enjoy a swim or a paddle in the river, before heading to the old railway station for lunch (not included).
  • The Waihi area still has one operating open cast mine. If we have time we can drive there and look down into the enormous hole in the ground which is over 400 metres deep (1,300 ft).
  • Then, time and stamina permitting, we will head back to Tauranga via Bowen Town with its amazing views of the Tauranga Harbour and its stunning beaches, from the top of an extinct volcano’s magma chamber.
  • Price includes drive/guide, full commentary, pick up and drop off at the port, a bottle of mineral water and Wi-Fi on request

Tour length 7-8 hours

Group of 2 $325, Group of 4 $240, Group of 6 or more $150

Safety – our vehicles have been awarded a 5* safety rating (the maximum) by the New Zealand’s government’s Transport Agency (NZTA) and our drivers are all First Aid trained and attend refresher course every two years.

Gold Mining
Gold Mining Area
Gold Mining River
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