Many people drive through the Karangahake Gorge on the way to Waihi and the Bay of Plenty without thinking to stop. But this beautiful area where you can walk, swim, fish or relax, just over 90 minutes' drive from Auckland, is steeped in history. It's a destination in itself.
Gold was mined in the Karangahake area from March 1875. Three large batteries were built there in the 1890s to treat ore taken from mines inside Karangahake Mountain. Output from the mines in 1909 made up 60 per cent of the total gold produced in New Zealand.
The Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway follows the old Paeroa to Waihi railway track beside the Ohinemuri River.
You can walk to Owharoa Falls or Victoria Battery, which processed ore from Waihi's Martha Mine. The track passes over two steel truss bridges and through a 1km rail tunnel.
You can walk as far as the Waikino Station, where there's a cafe. If you're in for a big day, you could also take a steam train ride from here.
Have a dip in Ohinemuri River, enjoy a picnic or try your luck at trout-fishing.
Situated between Paeroa and Waihi, access to Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway is via SH 2. There are four entry points to the walkway, each with car parks. They are located at the Karangahake Hall, Karangahake Reserve, Owharoa Falls (off Waitawheta Rd) and at the historic Waikino Station Cafe. Visit doc.govt.nz.