Coromandel - Karangahake
We had seen the Karangahake Gorge driving through on our way to our planned camping spot. We found it pretty impressive, so we returned the following day to explore the area.
There are multiple short tracks and circuits in the area, showcasing relics from the mining era, the nature of the gorge or the old railway that used to cross through the valley. We combined several of them, starting with the Karangahake Windows Walk.
The Karangahake Windows Walk
The path leads along the gorge and sometimes through old mining tunnels. Along the track are information boards explaining what can be viewed - from the tunnels, that the visitors walk through, where the rock was extracted, to the roasting pits where the rocks were baked before being crushed in the stamper battery. The walkways follows old mining tramlines in some spots, and the railroads are still there - as is an old mining trolley, moving towards Waitawheta River and Gorge.
It then leads into some old tunnels that were used for excavating the rocks. Sidetunnels can be explored with flashlights, and the main tunnel through the "windows" that gave the track its name - openings in the tunnel walls towards the gorge, were the debris was just pushed out into the river below.
Then the track crosses a wide swingbride. Here at some time an old underground pumphouse could be visited, but unfortunately this was closed when we visited the area.
So we just continued on the track, which follows the other side of the river back towards Karangahake along another old mining railway. It then passes the site of the old Talisman Stamping Battery that crushed rock 24/7 back in its prime time.
Upon finishing the Windows Walk Circuit we walked right on. The Rail Tunnel Walk leads through the 1086m long Karangahake Rail Tunnel, which has been out of use for quite a time now. While the walk in itself is about 3.5km and not really all that spectacular, the part through the tunnel was actually very weird. Once we were a few meters into the tunnel, it felt like it dragged on forever, like we would maybe never reach the other end. The temperature difference too the hot summer day outside might have had a part in this illusion. Anyways, it really was interesting, just as a trick on your mind. We walked first through the tunnel, then back down to the carpark by the river on the other side.