The small and picturesque settlement of Waikino sits alongside the Ohinemuri River, between Waihi and the Karangahake Gorge. Subtropical rainforests, steep ravines, fast moving rivers and streams, and the cascading Owharoa Falls make it a Must Visit when riding the Hauraki Rail Trail.
Gold mining around Waikino dates back to the early colonisation of New Zealand. The small settlement was the focal point of gold mining, with the construction of the Victoria Battery on the edge of what was a busy town, supporting the extensive local mining industry.
Photo credit: Caleb Bird - The sharply winding canyon of Karangahake Gorge, formed by the Ohinemuri River. Explore by bike and on foot to venture further through the many walkways, tunnels, and historic relics of yesteryear.
The Victoria Battery processed ore from the Martha Mine in Waihi, and with 200 stamps it was the largest quartz crushing plant for gold extraction in Australasia. It was capable of crushing over 812 tonnes of ore each day to the consistency of sand, and could be heard 10km away.
The abundance of history, heritage trains, mining relics and lush forest make Waikino an ideal place to stay when you ride the Hauraki Rail Trail. It's no wonder locals Kevin and Sarah fell under the spell of an old miner's cottage in the village. We caught up with the creative duo to hear about the cottage's renovation, why they love to run their business right on the Trail, and of course where they're hoping to adventure next themselves.
Photo: Kevin & Sarah - Adventures in Bali.
We are Kevin and Sarah, originally from the UK. We moved back to New Zealand in 2018. Three of our four grown up children came back with us and we all settled in Tauranga. In March 2019 we saw and fell in love with a very run down miners cottage in the village of Waikino. We then embarked on a two year long renovation to restore the cottage to its former glory.
Having bought our cottage, we then discovered the Hauraki Rail Trail. Having decided to run the miner's cottage as tourist accommodation, partnering up with the Trail made perfect sense. We wanted to showcase our cottage and the beautiful Rail Trail that surrounds it.
Where our cottage is located, we are in the middle of the Karangahake Gorge. This gives us a perfect vantage point to go on the Rail Trail towards Waihi or Paeroa through the stunning Gorge. We love the whole route through the Gorge from Paeroa to Waihi.
The stunning scenery, the historic mining relics and the friendly people you meet along the way. We love the historic railway stations at Waikino and Waihi, and cycling through railway tunnels and going over swing bridges is fun.
The beautiful and varied scenery which changes with the seasons makes it a pleasure to ride the Trail at any time of the year. We particularly enjoy the mining heritage and its old buildings which can be found along the Trail.
We offer a luxury couples retreat in a beautifully restored late 1900's gold miner's cottage. There are spectacular views over Mount Karangahake. Our location offers easy access to the Rail Trail for visitors wanting to explore on foot or by bike. We're also in walking distance of the historic pub Waikino Hotel. The cottage also has secure and covered facilities for bicycles, including a power point for guests needing to charge their e-Bikes.
Our next adventure is to go and visit Queenstown. It's a location we have always wanted to visit and we are excited to have booked to go in November 2021.
If you would like to explore Kevin and Sarah's favourite Section of the Trail, we've put together a few Must Do's to factor into your itinerary. With so much to see and do it's easy to spend at least a whole day in the Gorge.
The most popular section of the Rail Trail follows the Ohinemuri River through the dramatic Karangahake Gorge - a deep canyon cut through the Kaimai Ranges. Home to a spectacular regenerating forest and wildlife paradise, it is an absolute must for any nature enthusiast.
The stunning staircase Owharoa Falls are nestled in the heart of the Gorge, and make an ideal picnic spot while riding the Trail. If it’s warm enough cool off with a swim in the crystal-clear fresh water. A second lesser known falls can be found upstream for those willing to climb and get their feet wet.
Photo credit: Caleb Bird - Whether it's stone hopping, toe dipping or swimming, don't miss this special hidden Falls when you ride through Karangahake Gorge.
The Falls Retreat is a stunning haven, and an ideal stop when cycling the Hauraki Rail Trail. Located in the Karangahake Gorge, the venue offers award winning dining and boutique accommodation options. Book ahead to enjoy the Social Pizza Nights on selected Fridays, for those wanting a casual style of dining. Or for a little more luxury, the Paddock to Plate Dining Experience on Saturday evenings is a 4-course degustation menu. Sunday lunches offer the perfect family style set menu.
The Goldfields Historic Railway operates a daily timetable between Waihi and Waikino. Riders can take their bike on the vintage train for the 30 minute journey. Re-fuel at the cafe and picnic areas in the picturesque Waikino Gorge.
The Waikino Station Cafe is known for delicious and affordable home-style food made on the premises, and the team can also serve large groups on a tight schedule. Pop in for lunch or refreshments before catching the train.
The Windows Walk starts in the Karangahake Gorge carpark area and is about an hour round trip. Along the track visitors can observe relics of the many processes that took place in extracting gold. From the tunnels where rock was extracted, to the roasting pits where the rock was broken down, and remnants of the huge stamper battery processing plant.
Also to be found are the fascinating sites of Victoria Battery and the Victoria Battery Train and Museum. Here you’ll find many remains from what was once a vast industrial area. The cycle towards Waihi follows a picturesque river. The trail is mostly flat, with some gentle undulation through farmland before finishing in historic Waihi township.
Waihi is a picturesque heritage town and New Zealand's 'Heart of Gold', with a gold mining history spanning three centuries and a local open-pit mine that is still fully operational. Visit the Gold Discovery Centre for an interactive experience which makes the gold heritage come alive. Then wander across the street to view Martha Mine up close, and take the tour to experience a modern working gold mine in action.
The Martha Mine Pit Rim Walk is an easy but spectacular walk which begins at the Cornish Pumphouse. It rises gently to the edge of the open pit for the overwhelming view down into the vast chasm. The wide gravel path continues West on an easy gradient around to the highest point on the North wall where the view is breathtaking. Interpretative signs offer interesting facts about Martha Mine as you complete the 4km loop back to the Pumphouse.
You can find out more about The Cottage, check availability and book here.
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