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Spotlight On…Waihi

Photo credit: The Coromandel | www.thecoromandel.com

The diverse topography of the Waihi region provides a rich playground for all to enjoy. The spectacular native bush, Karangahake Gorge and nearby Waihi Beach are wonderful places to explore and enjoy. Waihi's thriving community has a rich and fascinating history, including over 100 years of mining gold and silver. 

In 2019, Waihi township garnered a new claim to fame becoming New Zealand’s most beautiful small town. As part of the Keep New Zealand Beautiful annual awards, it was the town’s diverse beauty, rivers, waterfalls and coastlines and incredible community spirit that saw the township win the competition.

The community and business spirit is evident across all generations, with groups and school children of all ages contributing to planting and sustainability initiatives, to ensure a bright future for themselves and the environment. There is local support for culture, heritage, the arts, fitness and well-being.


Photo credit: The Coromandel | www.thecoromandel.com - Sculpture by Irene Wilcocks (2005)


Sculptures, artworks and buildings offer interest and insight into the town's history. The sculpture above commemorates the pioneer women of the early 20th century who lived and raised families in very basic conditions. Portrayed here is a woman bathing her child in a traditional galvanised bath with water heated in a pot over an open fire. The piece is by sculptor Irene Wilcocks and was erected in 2005 with financial assistance from Hauraki District Council and the James Searle Say Trust.


Photo credit: The Coromandel | www.thecoromandel.com - Happy Children sculpture 2008


Waihi is proud of its history and has a heritage trail that points out places of interest. There are also some wonderful old buildings to discover for lovers of architecture. The growing number of cafes, restaurants, boutique shops, and options for accommodation make it a special place to mooch for a day or spend the night or longer.


Photo: Stop for a coffee and refuel at the Historic Ti Tree Cafe


Photo: Books on Seddon - Nestled above the Ti Tree Cafe in the old Dentist studio is the eclectic bookshop, Books on Seddon. It's a treasure trove for lovers of second hand books. Pop in to browse the collection and meet owner Margaret Kaye. There's a nook for kids, quiet reading spaces and quirky art. The store is well worth a visit, and you can even get your treasure couriered home so you don't have to carry it on your bike!


Photo: Boutique Sassy Sadie offers visitors New Zealand's best brands in Fashion, Accessories and Homewares. Call in to view the wide range. Owner Mel loves home decor and fashion and is a passionate member of Go Waihi, the local town promotion team.


Photo: Visit Dillimores for beautiful homewares and furnishings. The large iconic Waihi store are stockists of such French Country, Citta and CC Interiors plus well known fabric houses like James Dunlop and Charles Parsons among many others. The store has a long family history of providing upmarket goods for locals and visitors alike. 


We loved our morning exploring Waihi and thought this sign would make a great addition at home, or a fun gift to make someone smile. Whatever your interest, style or sense of humour, there's something for everyone waiting to be discovered in the town's many boutiques.



Photo: Local jeweller Paul Anderson is a manufacturing jeweller that plies his trade right on the main street at Diamonds on Seddon. Paul and Delwyn's store has evolved to include a wonderful range of giftware, and beautiful bespoke jewellery.  


Photo: Mural Waihi - factor in some extra time to discover the town's murals and other vibrant artworks. Some are obvious, others you need to take the time to find. The art above requires you to find the perfect spot to bring her to life, as her image flows down the wall and across the path.


Fancy getting your hands messy, or need a gift that's a little bit different? Book into Laughing Pottery to have a go at throwing your own pot. The lessons are fun and relaxed with no previous experience necessary, and you're guaranteed to have a great time. Suitable for ages 12 years and over. Allow two hours for making two small bowls and a tumbler, which will be glazed and fired for you at a later date. You can find out more about the Pottery and lessons on offer here. 


Photo: Laughing Pottery - Waihi


Some history for the history-buffs

Gold was first discovered in Waihi in 1878 and by 1905 the picturesque town not only possessed the most productive gold mine in New Zealand, but was the largest gold mining town in the country and became the third largest inland town in New Zealand.

Drawn by steam locomotives, 40 skip wagons each loaded with one tonne of quartz ore were hauled to the Victoria Battery site. There would be fourteen trains daily. Waihi is known as New Zealand’s ‘Heart of Gold,’ its gold mining history spans three centuries and the local open-pit mine is still fully operational.

Whilst the section of trail between Waikino and Waihi is currently closed due to damage from Cyclone Gabrielle, you can take the Goldfields Railway train through to Waihi Station. It's the only ex-New Zealand Railway site in New Zealand that still contains its original buildings.


Photo: Goldfields Railway - Waihi Station


However much time you have up your sleeve, Waihi is an attractive, vibrant township with plenty to see and do. If you're visiting with children, or interested in history, 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 4km Martha Mine Pit Rim Walk is an easy but spectacular walk which begins at the Cornish Pumphouse and offeres overwhelming view down into the vast chasm. 

Stop off at the Cornish Pumphouse built in 1904 which used to house steam engines and pumping machinery. Today the remains are protected by the Historic Places Trust, and the building is a Waihi landmark. 


Photo credit: Jarred Spec - Waihi Cornish Pumphouse


Upgraded in 2017, the Waihi Arts Centre & Museum operates as a place for the collection, display and preservation of items of historical interest, particularly items relating to the underground mining history of the area, and well worth the visit. 

The Art Gallery room has a dual role as a gallery and a theatre. As a gallery it hosts regular exhibitions of local and visiting arts and craft. As a theatre that seats 60, it becomes the setting for school groups to be shown a curriculum based Powerpoint presentation.


You can find all Official Partner businesses for Section C below.


Dine & Drink

See & Do

Tour Services


Waihi i-SITE - 126 Seddon Street, Waihi.  Ph: 07 863 9015   Email: ask@golddiscoverycentre.co.nz


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