Located at the border of the Coromandel Peninsula, on the Northern Island of New Zealand, you can find the Hauraki District. It’s a small region which is well-known for, among other things, Waihi (a gold mine town) and the Hauraki Rail Trail. It’s a district where you can explore a lot, but it’s also a perfect starting point for visiting the Coromandel, Auckland, Rotorua, Matamata and the Bay of Plenty. In this article I’ll tell you about the places to visit and the things to do in the Hauraki District.
Visit the gold mine town Waihi
Waihi is the home of the richest gold mine in New Zealand, started in 1878 (and which is still in operation nowadays). If you would like to get to know more about the gold mine and the history of Waihi, you can pay a visit to the Waihi Gold Discovery Centre.
The Waihi Gold Discovery Centre is an interactive museum where you get to know more about the gold production by walking around, reading and doing some interactive activities. Those interactive activities consist out of rattling the drill, cranking the handles and pushing the plunger. It’s a fun museum for both young and old! You can go to the museum (Waihi Gold Experience) seven days a week: from 9 AM to 5 PM in the summer time and from 9 AM to 4 PM in the winter time. A ticket costs NZD 25,- for adults and children from 5 to 14 years old pay NZD 12,-. Children under the 5 years old have free entrance.
You can also chose to go on one of the Waihi Gold Mine Tours, during which you visit a gold mine and learn how today’s miners get the gold out of the rock and into gold bars. These tours are offered seven days a week: one at 10.30 AM and one at 12.30 PM (extra tours during summer). It’s recommended to book beforehand on the website of the Gold Discovery Centre. A ticket for the mine tour costs NZD 39,- for adults and children from 5 to 14 years old pay NZD 19,-. Children under the 5 years old have free entrance.
It’s also possible to book a combination ticket which counts for both a visit to the museum and a mine tour (called the Waihi Gold Story Tour). A combination ticket costs NZD 59,- for adults and children from 5 to 14 years old pay NZD 29,-. Children under the 5 years old have free entrance.
Bike (a bit of) the Hauraki Rail Trail
The Hauraki Rail Trail is a fantastic biking trail which route goes through several regions of New Zealand. It’s one of the easiest biking trails of New Zealand, at which you can chose for a day trip, but also for a four-day trip (with staying in accommodations on during the bike trip). The trail is divided into five sections, which makes it easy to choose a daytrip which entirely fits your wishes. On your way, you come across all kinds of landscapes and places: from farmlands to forests and from caves to bridges. The best thing about the Hauraki Rail Trail is the fact that you come across all kinds of historical points: the route follows old railway lines between several historic gold towns.
If you would like to get some more information about the trail, the sections and how to plan your bike tour, click here.
During my trip through New Zealand, I biked a little bit of the Hauraki Rail Trail. My journey started in Waihi, where I could pick up a rental bike at the Gold Discovery Centre. From Waihi, I first went by train over the historic railway to Waikino. From Waikino, I’ve had a transfer to Karangahake and this was the place where I started my biking trip back to Waikino. This part of the biking trail is amazing, as you bike through the beautiful Karangahake Gorge. You come across lots of historical places where mine industry took place and you can read about this on your way. Arrived in Waikino, there is a small, cute eatery on the station where you can eat and drink something.
Hike the Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway
If you aren’t really into biking, you can also choose to go hiking around the Karangahake Gorge. Here you can find the Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway. This hiking trail is actually also divided into two sections. You can choose to just hike the Rail Tunnel Loop, which takes 45 minutes return and is around 2,5 kilometers long. You can also choose to walk a little more and hike the Historic Walkway to Waikino. This complete hike takes 4 hours return and has a distance of 4,3 kilometers. More information about the hiking trail can be found by clicking here.
Stay in Waihi Beach
A nice place to stay at when travelling around the Hauraki District and the Coromandel is Waihi Beach. Not only has this place several good accommodations, but it also features a magnificent beach. It’s a very atmospheric place and a great starting point for exploring more of the districts around Waihi Beach.
In my opinion, Hauraki is a beautiful district of New Zealand which is absolutely worth a visit in combination with the Coromandel Peninsula.
Have you ever been to New Zealand and Hauraki? Are there any other recommended places and/or activities from your side? I’d love to hear about them!