The Waiorongomai Valley is a significant gold mining site in the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park. The valley offers numerous walks following old mining trails. A prospector, Hone Werahiko found gold in the Waiorongomai Valley in 1881. Expensive engineering projects failed due to low yields from the unexpectedly hard rock of the enormous gold bearing reef. One of these projects is the Piako County Tramway.
Equipment at Hardies Mine
The Piako County Tramway
The Piako County Tramway was built in 1882-83 and is New Zealand's oldest known railway with the original rail still in place. It features three self acting inclines, of which Butlers Incline is 400 metres long and at 25 degrees is very steep.
The tramway remains on site and is a showcase historic site for the Department of Conservation. You can walk along the tramway right to the head of the valley, and return along one of the many pack horse tracks which zig-zag their way through the area.
There are a number of historic areas to explore in the valley, such as Hardy's Hut, Fern Spur incline and winding gear, the Bendigo Battery, the Low Level Drive, and the May Queen Incline and winding gear.
The Waiorongomai Valley lies at the end of Waiorongomai Loop Road. The Valley is just four kilometres south of Te Aroha, near State Highway 26.
The Waiorongomai Valley is home to numerous historic sites within easy reach of the car park. Modern interpretation and some restored sections of track complete the experience.
Plan and prepare
Please note that dogs, horses, vehicles (including bicycles and motorbikes), fires, removal of plants or animals,and hunting without a permit are not permitted. Mine tunnels and shafts are dangerous and may be hidden by vegetation. Keep to official tracks and do not enter tunnels unless they are clearly marked for public access.
Many of the sites are protected by the Historic Places Act 1980 and it is illegal to disturb such sites.
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