Windows Walk
Around the World - New Zealand
The Karangahake Gorge, Coromandel
Gold mines and railways from Waihi to Paeroa.
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The Karangahake Gorge

Quick links to :-     Crown Mine     Driving Creek Railway     Golden Crown Mine     Karangahake     Talisman Mine
    Tararu and Tinkers Gully     Thames     Victoria Battery     Waihi and Waikino     Windows Walk     Woodstock Mines

from Waihi to Paeroa

The Ohinemuri River runs from Waihi, just 2 kms from the Bay of Plenty but strangely flows westward to the Firth of Thames, passing through the Karangahake Gorge on the way. The river valley marks one of the most prolific goldfields in New Zealand.

The Cyanide Process

The first field trials in the world were carried out at the Crown mine to prove the cyanide method of extracting gold from low quality quartz ores. In 1897 the New Zealand Government acquired the patent rights for the process. The small royalty charged for the use of the process meant that the government outlay was fully recovered by 1905. The process was soon employed widely on this and other goldfields throughout New Zealand and overseas. It achieved an extraction rate of up to 90% of the gold contained in the rock, so making economic the processing of low content ores.

Waihi and Waikino


Waihi is the home of the Martha Mine, one of the largest goldmines in New Zealand.


Waikino Goldfields Railway

Victoria Battery

Quick links to :-     Crown Mine     Driving Creek Railway     Golden Crown Mine     Karangahake     Talisman Mine
    Tararu and Tinkers Gully     Thames     Victoria Battery     Waihi and Waikino     Windows Walk     Woodstock Mines

Victoria Battery, Waikato

The Victoria Battery at Waikato stands on the banks of the Ohinemuri River. It was named after Queen Victoria in her 60th jubilee year, the Battery had 200 stampers-the largest number at one time of any similar site in the world crushing on an average of 800 tonnes of ore per day – six days a week. It was the largest quartz ore processing plant in Australasia and one of the biggest industrial sites in New Zealand in the early 1900’s. Then it was the country’s largest producer of gold -10 times more than the next largest battery.

The Waihi Goldmining Company built their Battery at Waikino where ample water was available Ore was transported by rail on the company’s unique two foot nine gauge “Rake” line from the Martha Mine in Waihi six miles (8 kms) eastwards. Drawn by one of the company’s six English-built steam locomotives, 40 skip wagons each loaded with one tonne of quartz ore were hauled to the Battery site. Normally there were 14 trains daily. Up until 1901 the ore was first tipped into large brick-lined ore roasting kilns constructed in the highest point of the Battery site. Alternate layers of 50 tonnes of native timber and ore were stacked into the eight kilns and burnt for a few days, The ore and ash were raked from chutes below into skip ore wagons These wagons were winched through the 200 metre U shaped tunnel and the ore transported on to the crushers, stampers, tube mills and agitation tanks for cyanide treatment, etc. After being through numerous processes the precipitate on zinc filings was returned to the company’s refinery at Waihi for further treatment resulting in valuable gold & silver bars being poured.

After 1901 the kilns became redundant due to the huge consumption of timber (5 hectares every 2 days) and a wet crushing process was introduced.

The Ore Kilns

The Acid Tanks

Around the site

Talisman Mine

Quick links to :-     Crown Mine     Driving Creek Railway     Golden Crown Mine     Karangahake     Talisman Mine
    Tararu and Tinkers Gully     Thames     Victoria Battery     Waihi and Waikino     Windows Walk     Woodstock Mines

Talisman Mine

The claims here were worked with little success prior to 1896 when the 'New Zealand Talisman Gold Mining Co' took over; having also acquired the neighbouring 'Woodstock Gold Mining Co.’s ground in 1895. New Zealand Talisman immediately commenced vigorous development of the property including driving seven adit levels and upgrading existing plant. In 1897 the company amalgamated with the Talisman Extended Co to form Talisman Consolidated Ltd. TCL erected a new 50 stamp mill (the bulk of the surviving field remains) which commenced crushing in 1901. TCL’s highest production was in 1914 yielding 52,210 tons of ore bullion valued at £263,516. By 1918 ore reserves were practically exhausted. The company was wound up in 1920

Talisman Powerhouse

The Talisman powerhouse is on the the left bank of the Waitawheta River and across from the Battery.

Talisman Battery

The Talisman battery is on the the right bank of the Waitawheta River opposite the powerhouse.

Woodstock Battery and kilns

Quick links to :-     Crown Mine     Driving Creek Railway     Golden Crown Mine     Karangahake     Talisman Mine
    Tararu and Tinkers Gully     Thames     Victoria Battery     Waihi and Waikino     Windows Walk     Woodstock Mines

Woodstock Battery

The Auckland based 'Woodstock Gold and Silver Mining and Smelting Co' was formed in 1885, headed by William Gorrie. Roderick McDonald Scott was mine manager.. It met with little success because of the difficult, refractory nature of the ore despite its high grade. In 1890, the company was reconstructed as the 'Woodstock United Goldmining Co' after merging with the 'Kenilworth Co'. It wasn’t until the introduction of the ‘cyanide’ process in 1894 (developed by the nearby Crown Gold Mining Co in 1889), which greatly improved returns, that the mine developed. In 1897 the 10 stamp battery was increased to 40 stamps and a cyanide plant erected at the confluence of the Ohinemuri and Waitawheta Rivers. Around 1900 the company constructed a large underground pumphouse chamber on the west bank of the river to accommodate a headframe and shaft within the narrow confines of the gorge becoming the centre of the company’s operations. It had developed the mine at five levels, producing around 140 000 ounces of gold, before closing in 1903. The Woodstock Co was acquired by the Talisman Co in 1904, who accessed part of its Talisman level 14 workings through the Woodstock shaft, and operations at the battery ceased in 1909 after a flood, and then a fire the following year. The Talisman Co was liquidated in 1920. (DoC)

Woodstock Battery

Woodstock Battery

Woodstock Ore Kilns and Incline

The Woodstock ore kilns were above the battery and were fed with ore brought along the tramway from the Windows mine . The incline linked the ore kilns and mine to the battery and is now the main access to the Windows mine.

Woodstock Underground Pumphouse

Woodstock underground pumphouse

The Woodstock 'Windows' Walk

Quick links to :-     Crown Mine     Driving Creek Railway     Golden Crown Mine     Karangahake     Talisman Mine
    Tararu and Tinkers Gully     Thames     Victoria Battery     Waihi and Waikino     Windows Walk     Woodstock Mines

The Woodstock 'Windows' Walk

The Woodstock ‘windows’ tunnels are on the North side of the gorge about 35 metres above the river. They follow Shepherd’s Lode, the location where most of the rich ore was won. The tunnels are connected by a 500 metre tramway (Woodstock tramway) to the company’s battery site at the confluence of the Ohinemuri and Waitawheta Rivers. The main tunnel, cut through sound rock, is about 100 metres long, 2.5 metres wide, and 2.5 metres high (for horse drawn operations), and is 5 to 10 metres inside the cliff face. Crosscuts run off it at right angles into the hillside. Where the crosscuts and tunnel intersect, the miners created ‘windows’ in the cliff face to dump mullock (waste rock) into the river, while the gold bearing ore was retained and trucked along the tramway to the battery.

The tunnels and ‘windows’ in their spectacular gorge setting were a major engineering achievement and have created a significant and enduring heritage site. Waikato Conservancy has just completed the first stage of a major development (the Karangahake Mines project) of the sites in this area. This work has seen the historic tunnel which runs parallel to the cliff face, extended by 70 metres and in tandem with a new staircase created a circuit walk around the significant mining heritage sites in the lower gorge. In addition track was re-laid on the Woodstock tramway to both remove the tunnellings and recreate an historic element. New tunnel portals and safety barriers have also been installed in key locations. (DoC).

The Woodstock 'Windows' Tramway

The Woodstock tramway ran from the ore kilns to the mine, known these days as the 'Windows' tunnels.

The 'Windows' tunnels

The 'Windows' tunnels

The Windows from the Crown Mine tramway

The Windows viewed from the Crown Mine tramway on the South bank of the Waitawhera River

Crown Mine

Quick links to :-     Crown Mine     Driving Creek Railway     Golden Crown Mine     Karangahake     Talisman Mine
    Tararu and Tinkers Gully     Thames     Victoria Battery     Waihi and Waikino     Windows Walk     Woodstock Mines

Crown Mine

Crown Mine and Battery. The 'Crown Goldmining Co' which first worked this site was registered in 1883, but operations at the beginning were difficult due to the refractory nature of the ore. They erected an inclined tramway from the mine to the battery to transport ore. In 1891, they commenced mining of the Welcome Reef, driving an adit 2894 feet. In 1896 a shaft was sunk from a chamber within this level for 526 feet, and developed five levels from it. Mining concentrated on the upper most level called 5A with the lowest level was still 500 feet above the river level. The lower levels suffered flooding problems. The company gradually took over neighbouring claims, increasing from an initial 60 acres to 404 acres. These leases included the Earl of Glasgow, Monastery, Mammoth, and Ravenswood. By 1891 it was owned by the 'New Zealand Crown Mines Co'. The introduction of the cyanide process in the 1890's improved extraction rates and by 1896 the plant had expanded to 60 stampers. By 1908 difficulties, particularly surplus water, were encountered in the mining operation and profitability declined from 1910 to 1915 and by 1916 most of the workers had been laid off. In 1920 the battery was dismantled and very small scale mining continued until 1928, when the company abandoned the lease and was wound-up.

The Crown Battery

The Crown Mine

Upstream from the suspension bridge on the North bank

Downstream from the suspension bridge on the South bank

Drainage levels on the Crown Mine tramway on the South bank, possibly from the Talisman Mine

Karangahake and Paeroa

Quick links to :-     Crown Mine     Driving Creek Railway     Golden Crown Mine     Karangahake     Talisman Mine
    Tararu and Tinkers Gully     Thames     Victoria Battery     Waihi and Waikino     Windows Walk     Woodstock Mines

Karangahake Tunnel

The railway between Paeroa and Waihi was built between 1900 and 1905. It was the main line to the Bay of Plenty until the Kaimai tunnel was opened in 1978.


The gold extraction tanks were built in c1912 by the Waihi-Paeroa Gold Extraction Co Ltd.<

Acknowledgments, sources and further reading.

Thanks for photos, info and help to :- Auckland Museum, Dept of Conservaton (DoC), Goldfields Railway Inc., Heritage New Zealand,,, Victoria Battery Tramway & Museum Society Inc.

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All rights reserved - Phil Jenkins