An old gold mining town with scenic walks and old mining remnants
A very scenic place that's great to visit as an excursion from Hamilton is Karangahake. Mining for gold started here in 1875 and continued until the late 1930s, after which mine buildings and equipment were dismantled and nature begain to reclaim the land.
The area is a popular walking, cycling, and swimming spot, particularly over summer months.
Karangahake Windows Walk is a popular and scenic 1-hour/2.5km loop walk that takes you along the Waitawheta River, past old mining remnants, and through disused mine tunnels.
You will need a torch (or the one on your mobile phone) to see your way through the tunnels. Halfway through the tunnel there's another tunnel that branches off and forks - with each fork ending at a dead-end - so you can't get lost. The tunnels are fun to explore.
The almost 1.1km long former Karangahake Rail Tunnel was built between 1900 and 1905, and operated as a branch of the East Coast Main Trunk Railway until 1978.
The Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway (7km/4h return) passes through the tunnel, although a lot of people prefer to simply walk through the tunnel and return the same way. You can also experience it as a part of a 2.5km/40m loop track.
The old Waikino Train Station is where you'll find the Waikino Station Café - a popular place to stop off for lunch or a bite to eat during your visit to the area.
It is here that the Karangahake Historic Walkway ends and the Paeroa to Waihi section of the Hauraki Rail Trail passes through. You're also able to drive here.
Another great way to explore the area is by cycling the Paeroa to Waihi section of the Hauraki Rail Trail. This section is 24km long (6-8 hours return), and it takes you along the Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway, through the 1.1km-long former rail tunnel, and past remnants of the old gold mining days.