On our road trip round the North Island of NZ my partner did a lot for me – he drove (mainly because its less painful if he does), he saw alot of things that whilst he enjoyed them may not have been high on his to see list and he let me choose and plan the route. He is a man who loves machines and also current owns his own Plant Hire business so when I was planning I ensured we factored in some time in the historic gold mining region. There was bound to be big machines there!
Now in all my planning I hadn’t realised quite what we would find when we arrived in Waihi.
This is the Martha Mine….
It is HUGE! The mine sits at the end of the Main Street and is accessible via a footpath from Seddon Street and has a viewing area around the rim on the pit. There is also a replica Poppet Head and Historic Cornish Pumphouse that was moved from its orginal site in the grounds. There was a large subsidence to one side which you can see has blocked off the roads along the side of the pit. There is information board which explained that it was a gold and silver open-pit mine which is not operational (would be kinda hard and unsafe with the side so unstable) but that there is also an underground mine very close to this site that is operational.
We enjoyed our wander around but we hadn’t seen any machines and also wanted to know more. Opposite the mine on Seddon Street is the Waihi Gold Discovery Centre with a museum and they also do tours. The Gold Discovery Centre was really interesting and covered so much of the history of not only the mine but also of Waihi. There was lots of hands on activities that would keep the kids (and man children) entertained. However I would throughly recommend buying the Tour and Discovery Center combo ticket.
The bus picked us up just outside and our guide was brilliant. Nice chap who knew everything about the mine and the gold history of Waihi. The first part of the tour takes you to the open-pit mine where you get to get closer to the mine and also finally see some big trucks. After some further information and a few pics we then headed down the road to the newer underground mine. On the way there our tour guide pointed out a man-made lake that the mining company (Oceana Gold) had built for the town and also highlighted other ways that Oceana Gold helped support the town. this wasnt just through employment and local charity funding but also scholarships for the high school.
Arriving at the underground mine we got to see entrance to the mine (and some more big trucks) and were also told how the operation works. One of the interesting things was regarding the rocks that came out of the mine as these were not allowed to be sold and needed to be put back into Waihi. The way they have done this is by building up the landscape surrounding and creating huge tailing ponds which have brought specific species of birds back to the area. It is a really creative and inspiring way of using something that affects the landscape to actual also help the landscape and ecosystems.
We then got to get closer to the working mine and saw the dumpers taking out the rocks and then everything going onto the conveyor belts to get broken down and starting showing the gold and silver. The tour guide had samples of gold and silver for the mine and we were able to take a few token pics.
On the bus back to the Discovery Centre our tour guide answered all the questions and had some booklets with further information that you could look through.
It was a great experience being able to have a look around the mines but I also found the history behind the town and the mine so fascinating and nice change to everything we had already done on our trip. What is the point of going somewhere if you don’t learn somethings new?
I’m still working my way through blogs on other places we visited in the North Island however if you wanted to read about seeing the Gloworms in Waitimo you can find this here or drinking wine at one of the many wineries on Waiheke here
Finer Details for the Gold Discover Centre
Website and details below if you would like more information
Tour times 10.30 and 12.30 daily (tour takes around 1.5 hours)
Prices $55 per adult for combo ticket