Actually this was a trip we took on Sunday to the gold mining town of Waihi in the North Island of New Zealand. Pete had bought a 1988 Nissan flat deck ute for his fishing trips and we went to pick it up. Waihi has a rich, in more ways than one, history.
Waihi is New Zealand’s ‘Heart of Gold’, with a gold mining history spanning three centuries and a local open-pit mine that is still fully operational. The Ohinemuri River flows through Waihi on its way to the ‘must-do’ Karangahake Gorge. In the gorge you can fish for trout, take walks through old mining tunnels and relics, or cycle the Hauraki Rail Trail. Waihi Beach, just 10km from Waihi, offers 9km of sweeping white sand and is one of the safest surf beaches in New Zealand.
Waihi offers plenty of opportunities to explore, with old wooden buildings, museums and history aplenty in town and a beautiful white sand beach just a short drive away where you can relax or enjoy fishing and collecting shellfish. And best of all – there’s not a shopping mall in sight!
Having said that, there’s not much open on a Sunday including the local museum which was rather disappointing.
There is a Heritage train that runs between Waihi and Waikino at the eastern end of the spectacular Karangahake Gorge. This is something we didn’t have time for as the train had just left as we arrived, but we are planning to book a bach (crib) for a weekend soon and take Luke on the train ride.
So here are the photos of places we visited in our brief visit:
The open cast Martha mine in the centre of town. Waihī began as a shanty town around a store and a hotel in the 1880s. When the invention of the cyanide process made mining profitable from 1889, the town boomed. Waihī housed a thriving electronics industry for half a century after a small radio-manufacturing and repair service opened in 1932. The first television transmission in New Zealand was made at Waihī in 1954. Underground mining finished at the Martha mine in 1952. However, rising gold prices and new, more economic mining methods rekindled interest in gold mining in the 1980s. The Martha mine re-opened in 1987, this time as an open pit mine.
And the spectacular Karangahake Gorge:
It was a lovely drive, the ute was in mint condition, so a great day. The only disappointment, other than the museum being closed, was the amount of roadside rubbish in the gorge. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves!