The Karangahake Gorge can be found on the southern section of New Zealand’s Coromandel region between Paeroa and Waihi. The drive alone presents breathtaking views but I highly recommend doing one (or all) of the trails. The Karangahake Reserve car park is situated directly off State Highway 2 for added convenience.
The Windows Walks is a 2.5 km loop along the Karangahake Gorge where the path leads directly through a historic gold mine tunnel. All along the trail are old mining remnants that make fun conversation topics and pictures with the kiddos.
The Windows Walks begins by crossing two shaky suspension bridges over the Ohinemuri River.
A set of stairs takes you past what is left of the Talisman battery’s buildings and machinery. Continue along the old tracks left behind from the gold mining days until you reach the tunnel entrance. This part of the walk requires a torch (cell phone flashlight app works well too). The surface is uneven so watch your step.
The tunnel is pitch dark except for 4 holes cut out in the mountain. They are known as “windows” and offer spectacular views of the Kanangahake Gorge. Make sure to find your way to the edge for pictures.
After exiting the tunnel there are another set of stairs to reach the lower suspension bridge. Personal note: This is where I previously fell into the gorge when I was with friends and lost my favorite sunglasses (oh and scrapped up my leg pretty bad). I would not suggest walking close to the edge and more importantly do not take a step backwards without checking to make sure the grass is solid. Luckily this was not a huge fall and I mostly just slide down the hill a few feet until I was able to catch my grip. The rocks did take a chunk out of my leg though and startled my friends. Only I would fall in a gorge!
Once you cross the lower bridge, you continue walking along the Crown Tramway Track across from the mine tunnel (if gate is open). My first trip here the gate was locked due to slips and we had to return the same way we came. The day our family visited the gate was open so we proceeded on with the loop. The sunny January day offered picturesque views in all directions.
The trail loops back to the car park and can be completed easily in an hour. The Owharoa Waterfall located 2 kilometers away would be a great place for a cool off swim after completing this walk.