Embark on a time-travelling gold rush adventure at Karangahake Gorge!
Back in the 1900s, this place was a hub of activity with a maze of water races and pipelines snaking through the gorge, with tramlines clinging to the steep mountainsides and smoke belching from ore-crushing batteries built beside the Waitawheta River. Gold fever was definitely in the air!
This short adventure takes in the highlights of these historic mining endeavours. Start your walk by crossing the suspension bridges over the Ōhinemuri River and the Lower Waitawheta Gorge near the car park, then climb up the stairs. Everything is well signposted.
At the top, peer into the deep roasting kilns before following the tramline as it passes the Talisman battery ruins - where kids can clamber over its rugged hulking remains – before the trail disappears into a mining tunnel.
Inside, windows carved into the rock face create dramatic pockets of light, illuminating the tunnel’s wooden beams and giving lofty views of the gorge. Take a torch to explore the small side tunnels, but remember to turn it off to see the twinkling glow worms.
Clamber down the steep staircase and cross another suspension bridge as you return to the car park.
Accessibility: Walking only. Includes stairs, dark tunnels and uneven surfaces.
Time: Allow 60 min (about 2.5km) for the loop.
Location: Karangahake Reserve. SH2 between Paeroa and Waihī.
Facilities: Café and toilets.
Dogs: No dogs allowed.
Looking for more family-friendly walks? Our Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Central Plateau guidebook has 250+ adventures from the Bombay Hills to Ohakune - and everywhere in between!