Waihi - The Town with a Heart of Gold
The Waihi Ward is located on the eastern side of the Hauraki District and has a population of around 6,660 (Statistics New Zealand, 2011). Waihi is the largest urban centre in the Waihi Ward and it lies at the base of the Coromandel Ranges. Waihi’s main street won the Town Centres of New Zealand Achievement Award in 2001 for physical improvement.
It was the lure of gold that originally brought people to the Waihi area, with gold bearing quartz being found in the 1870s. Waihi has a rich mining history and was once one of the most prominent gold and silver mines in the world. Today mining remains a key industry for Waihi which still has several gold and silver mines, both open pit and underground, in full production located on the doorstep of the Waihi Township. Other key industries for the Waihi area include agriculture and horticulture, with many dairy and livestock farms throughout the area, along with a number of kiwifruit orchards.
Whiritoa Beach is located on the east coast of the Hauraki District and is part of the Waihi Ward. Whiritoa is a small beach village and the beach itself is picturesque with golden sand. At the southern end of the beach is a short bush walk to a blowhole. Whiritoa Beach is popular with surfers and whilst many enjoy swimming there, visitors need to be aware that the shore is quite steep.
Things to do and see...
Waihi has a good selection of cafés and restaurants as well as accommodation and shopping. There are a number of excellent attractions to keep any visitor busy in this area, some of which are listed below.
The Cornish Pumphouse and Martha Mine
The Cornish Pumphouse is a relic of the original Martha Mine in Waihi, built in the early 1900s to house steam-driven pumping machinery needed to dewater the mine. The pumphouse was used until 1913 and kept in working order until 1929. It has since become an icon of the Waihi Township. In 2006 the pumphouse had to be relocated from its original position because the ground beneath the structure was unstable and is now located on Seddon Street, on the edge of the open pit Martha Mine.
Martha Mine is an open pit, gold and silver mine just metres away from the main street of Waihi. There are two viewing points for the mine in Waihi; one is located on Moresby Avenue and the other is at the Cornish Pumphouse site. There is a walkway that follows the rim of the open pit mine and visitors can go on tours organised by Waihi Goldmine Tours.
The Waihi Arts Centre and Museum
The Waihi Arts Centre and Museum is located on Kenny Street in Waihi and features displays and models of the areas mining history including the infamous ‘thumb collection’ of miners chopped off thumbs.
The Karangahake Gorge
The Karangahake Gorge with its rugged bush and clear water running over a rocky bed connects Waihi to Paeroa. The Gorge has a number of walking and tramping tracks including a section of the Hauraki Rail Trail which spans from Waikino to Mackaytown and then on to Paeroa. For more information see the Hauraki Rail Trail website and the Department of Conservation website for information about tracks and walks in the Karangahake gorge.
Some of the key attractions at the Waihi end of the Gorge include the Victoria Battery site at Waikino and the Goldfields Railway. The Victoria Battery was built in the late 1890s to process gold and silver ore from the Martha Mine in Waihi. The battery continued to process ore until the 1950s when the original Martha Mine was closed. Most of the machinery and buildings of the battery were dismantled and removed when it closed, but the ruins that remain are impressive especially in the remote and beautiful setting of the Gorge.
The Goldfields Railway operates a train ride between Waihi and Waikino along the original rail bed alongside the Ohinemuri River. For more information go to the Goldfields Railway website.
Whiritoa Beach is located on the east coast of the Hauraki District at the base of the Coromandel Peninsula. The Whiritoa Village is relatively quiet with a small number of permanent residents. The beach is popular during the summer months, when its population swells significantly with holidaymakers.
There is always something on in Waihi including market days, quiz nights, multisport events, art exhibitions, Waihi’s warm up party for the Beach Hop and the annual Trolley Derby which takes place every October.
Phone: 07 863 3030
Waihi Information Centre
Phone: 07 863 6715
Address: Seddon Street, Waihi
Waihi Health Centre
Phone: 07 863 8195
Address: School Lane, Waihi
Phone: 07 863 8179
Address: 55 Kenny Street, Waihi