Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Waihi Wanderings

Waihi is a town about 150km south east of Auckland in the north island of New Zealand. It is about 10km inland from the Pacific Ocean and mining for gold has been an occurrence in the area since about 1878. The Martha Mine itself has been in (and out of) operation since about then, predominantly as an underground operation until it closed in 1952.

The open pit mine was opened in 1987 and has since had a number of extensions made to its original scope, including additional underground development from the bottom of the pit.

Due to the mine being mostly surrounded by town infrastructure, there has been a lot of development done to try and have a positive impact on the townsfolk. This includes only being a day shirt mine, and when the current push back was new, not mining most of the weekend. But to also help the tourism of the area, mine tours are given, and there is a walk around the rim of the pit and mining operation.

Near the southern edge of the pit is the Cornish Pumphouse and the Poppet Headframe.
The Cornish Pumphouse was build in 1903 to house the mines steam engines and pumping equipment to de-water the underground mine. The pumphouse was then disused from 1913 when electricity replaced steam as the power of choice.

In 2006 the pumphouse was moved 300m from its original location due to the ground it was sitting on slowly collapsing. The building was moved by placing it on teflon pads and then slowly moved along stainless steel plates in a process that took 3 months. The building has also been reinforced with steel bracing to help it survive not only the move, but the test of time.

The Poppet Headframe is a replica of those that used to be seen as the Waihi skyline.

A good place to stay is Waihi Beach, about 10km east of Waihi. The beaches here are beautiful and extend for about 9km.

Off the coast is Mayor Island

It makes a nice base for the days work, and a lot of the miners feel the same way. Though it was a little cold, it certainly beat being a little further south. Though Rotorua isn't too far further south if you want some climbing and snow. Waihi and Waihi Beach are great little towns and it's always a pleasant place to visit. But it must be time for another visit to the south island I think.

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