It takes about 2.5 hours to hike the steep mountain track to the summit of Mount Karangahake from the carpark. It took me a little more than that, sweating and grumbling, but the view from the peak was worth it, and at least I can now look up from the road and say I’ve been there. We returned to the carpark by way of the more circuitous County Road track, an all-up walk of just over five hours that left us good-for-nothing-much for the rest of the day. Thank heaven for takeaway meals and frosty cider, an easy option these days but not readily available to those old-time miners after long, hard days in the small, narrow tunnels that we passed on our way up the hill.

Karangahake Gorge

Karangahake Gorge is just over 7km east of the township of Paeroa along SH2. Remnants of its significant gold-mining history include the spectacular Windows Walk, a round trip that takes about an hour and provides outstanding views of the steep gorge, the fast-flowing Waitawheta River, and remnants of mining-related structures that were vitally important in the days when Karangahake’s gold was a vital contributor to the economy. While several houses remain at the gorge, it’s a far cry from the times when Karangahake was a sizeable township, as can be seen on the very good interpretive signage.

View from the top of Karangahake Mountain

The Windows Walk, including the tunnels where taking a torch or wearing a headlamp is advisable, gives yet another perspective of the hard life faced by our pioneer miners. We followed some diggings inside the Windows tunnels, turned off our lights, and to our delight discovered several glow worms on the tunnel roofs. However, it would have been a different kettle of fish having to work in those very dark tunnels all day long.


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