In 1881 gold was found in the Waiorongomai Valley by prospector Hone Werahiko – subsequent engineering projects failed due to the low yields from the hard rock of the gold bearing reef, but the remains provide great insight into Te Aroha’s gold rush days.
There are several historic areas within the Waiorongomai Valley including the Piako County Tramway, New Zealand’s oldest bush tramway with original rail still in place, as well as machinery and the remains of gold mines and miners’ lodgings.
The area has several great walking trails available with the Fern Spur Incline and Low Level Loop walk suitable for older kids and the walk to the base of the Fern Spur Incline suitable for younger children and families with strollers.
The Low Level Loop takes in key sites around the lower Waioronogmai goldfields, while the Butlers Incline to Premier Creek track takes walkers up the valley, along tramways and through tunnels to finish at Premier Creek. New Era Branch Track is an alternative route to the head of the valley while the Kauri Grove route is a more challenging track featuring regenerating kauri forest and access to the old Bendigo Battery site. The High Level Pack Track passes waterfalls and several mine portals, including the old mining camp Quartzville. Longer overnight walks can also be accessed from different tracks within the Waiorongomai Valley.
Waiorongomai Valley walk details
- Location: Waiorongomai Loop Road, 4km south of Te Aroha.
- More Info: www.doc.govt.nz
- Please Note: Many of the walking trails in the Waikato region do not allow dogs. Hamilton & Waikato Tourism recommend checking with the Department of Conservation before taking your dog on any of the trails in the region.