Karangahake Rail Tunnel Walk

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

Quick Facts

        • Location: North Island NZ
        • Distance: 3.30 kms
        • Time needed: 1 Hour 20 Minutes
        • Difficulty: Very Easy
        • Wheelchair Access: No
        • Route: Round Trip
        • Elevation: 30m
        • Wet Feet: No
        • Toilets: Yes
        • Dogs: No
        • Mobile Coverage: Yes
        • Last Updated: November, 2019
  • Track Highlights

    There are a number of old gold batteries along this walk and old mine drives in to the hill side. Walking through Karangahake George is an explorer’s delight. Everywhere you look you can see the remains of all the train tracks that carried the quarts out to the old noisy batteries. Steam boilers, no longer producing steam but rust. Tunnels dug deep into mount Karangahake, with picks shovels and dynamite.

    The 1086m 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.

  • Track Quality

    A good gravel track. The tunnel is a little uneven with the odd small water puddles. There are a couple of lights in the tunnel but take a torch.

  • Hazards

    This walk follows a very narrow path along the Ohinemuri River, keep an eye on the children. You could walk the tunnel without a torch, but you might also trip over on the uneven surface.

  • Transport

    You’ll need to make your own way to Karangahake Gorge

  • Water

    Tap water at Karangahake Gorge car park only

  • Driving Instructions

    The Karangahake Gorge is 13 Km East of Waihi and 8 Km West of Paeroa

  • Shops or Restaurants nearby

    13 Km to Waihi

  • Area & 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 Ks 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.

  • Best Things To Do near this walk

  • Map location of Karangahake Rail Tunnel Walk

    Map of walk

Points of interest along the walk

In the map above, if you zoom in on the walk, you’ll see all the following track points and their location. Each point has photos along with a description about each one.

Point 1: Karangahaka Gorge car park

The car park has toilets, water and picnic tables under shelters. A great place to pull up for a break. Take a torch with you. This is an excellent walk to get a feel of the old days. You will also see tremendous views of the gorge. Take the 15 minute walk to the windows. 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.

Point 2: Second Swing Bridge

Turn to the left and walk over to the next swing bridge. Look down in to 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 is a lot of old machine hidden in the scrub.

Point 3: Into The 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 hand rails along the rocky section, so be careful and watch out for young ones.

Point 4: 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 high way and the Ohinemuri River. Again look for the elusive rainbow trout as you cross the Ohinemuri river. Make your way in to the old battery on your left and have a good look around for five minutes then walk up river through the bush and back to the swing bridge you crossed at the beginning of the walk.

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