The Karangahake Rail Tunnel Walk is an easy 3.3km walk that will take you around 1 hour 20 mins to complete in a loop

The tunnel is quite exciting to walk through and has lighting. Most of the walk follows along a sometimes narrow path along the Ohinemuri River with great views.

The 1086m Karangahake tunnel was started in 1900 and finished in November 1905. It was built to help transport mining material and gold in and out of Waihi quickly instead of the slow old pack horses. The total cost of building the rail line from Paeroa to Waihi cost 141,762 Pounds.

Inside Karangahake Rail Tunnel
Inside Karangahake Rail Tunnel

Quick Facts about this walk

  • Location: Karangahake Gorge, Near Waihi, North Island NZ
  • Distance: 3.30 km
  • Time needed: 1 Hour 20 Minutes
  • Difficulty: Very Easy
  • Wheelchair Access: No, but you can bike it no worries
  • Route: Round trip, loop
  • Elevation: 30m
  • Wet Feet: No
  • Toilets: Yes at the car park
  • Dogs: On a leash only
  • Mobile Coverage: Yes
New swing bridge at the start of the Karangahake Tunnel walk
New swing bridge at the start of the Karangahake Tunnel walk

Summary points about this walk

My drone video of Karangahake George with the walking track following the river

Area and Track History

In 1875 gold was mined in Karangahake George. Three main batteries, Crown, Talisman and Woodstock produced 60% of NZ’s total gold production. Even today, in the town of Waihi just 12 km away, gold is still being mined. By 1920, the costs of gold recovery began to outweigh profits. The main batteries at Karangahake closed down and were demolished.

The 1086m rail tunnel was started in 1900 and finished in November 1905. It was built to help transport mining material and gold in and out of Waihi quickly instead of the old pack horses.

The two steel bridges on either end of the tunnel were built and transported from Christchurch in the South Island. The people of Karangahake and the Department of Conservation are starting to restore the old mining sites back to their original working condition. With the intentions of running daily guided tours through the workings.

If you don’t have your own transport down to Karangahake Gorge then why not do this 1 day ebike tour from Auckland which explores the natural beauty of the Karangahake Gorge. 

Full walk description

Karangahaka Gorge Car Park - start of the walk

The car park has toilets, water and picnic tables under shelters. A great place to pull up for a break. This is an excellent walk to get a feel of the old days. You will also see tremendous views of the gorge.

Cross the first bridge at the bottom of the car park. Turn left and walk past the remains of the old battery and make your way over to the second swing bridge. You can see the second swing bridge from the car park, over to your left.

You could also take the 15 minute walk to the Karangahaka windows from the second swing bridge.

Second Swing Bridge

After you’ve walked over the second swing bridge,  look down into the Waitawheta River. You should see old steel pipes and railway lines lying in the river. The train used to cross here on its way to the Talisman and Woodstock battery.

The next sign you bump into on the right leads up to the windows walk. A walk you must do. Turn to the left, have a good look around before walking on; there are a lot of old machines hidden in the scrub.

Into The Rail Tunnel

Keep to the left, follow the track through the bush and along the river where you can see old steel bolts from the old mining days.

There is an old mining tunnel just before the bridge. There are no handrails along the rocky section, so be careful and watch out for young ones.

Back to the start

Back to the car park is 15 mins = 800m. Once out of the tunnel and back into daylight, you walk over the main highway and the Ohinemuri River.

Again look for the elusive rainbow trout as you cross the Ohinemuri River. Make your way into the old battery on your left and have a good look around for five minutes then walk upriver through the bush and back to the swing bridge you crossed at the beginning of the walk.

More of my walks in Karangahake Gorge

Daly's Clearing Walk in Waihi - Start of the walk over farmland - Copyright

Daly’s Clearing Loop Walk

9 kms • 4 Hours • Easy
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Karangahaka Gorge Walk To Wharawhara Road End||||||||Karangahaka Gorge Walk To Wharawhara Road End

Karangahaka Gorge Walk To Wharawhara Road End

38 kms • 18 Hours • Medium
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Karangahaka Gorge Bridge walkway|||||Karangahake Gorge Windows Walk|Karangahake Gorge Windows Walk

Karangahake Gorge Windows Walk

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Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway Gate||||||||Mountain Bike Trail

Mountain Bike Trail, Stage Two, Hauraki Rail Trail, Paeroa to Waikino

14 kms • 2 Hours • Very Easy
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