Trip information, past trips and contacts for Wanderers Tramping Club

Luck at Last Mine Tramp, Whangamata,     Sunday 14th March 2021

On a perfect mild mid-February day 26 trampers, under Diane’s expert guidance, headed along the picturesque rocky, river- flanked track and old carriageway to explore well-preserved relics of this 1899-1901 promising gold operation. We were 7 kms north of Whangamata, and 3 kms down a forestry road.

The native trees and many hopeful seedlings were dwarfed by giant conifers, and the water below in the Wharekawa river kept up a gentle babble as it moved along its rocky course. The cicadas held the same note throughout.  An hour in, having passed the access to the saloon site, we reached the main historic archeological battery site of the crushing and extraction operation, with many “exhibits”: cyanide ponds; the pelton water wheel  that drove the whole operation; a row of 6 huge  Berdan bowls for grinding sand to a powder; and above the bluff a big, well preserved  brick construction with the furnace and tunnels to convey the heat. Gold fever archeological relics!

Here is where we stopped for lunch and viewing the interesting descriptions and photo boards before trekking on in search of the baker’s site. I am not sure it was found, but the beautiful rocky pool which was easily accessible was a welcome invitation to some.  Diane features in the story of the day! Still wearing  boots, bra and little more, Diane took the plunge with a splash, only to retreat rapidly after something bit her leg – it was an eel. Just as well she had her boots on.

At this area a little cairn had been piled with jasper rocks which sent some on a rock search.

Apparently, in 1896 the mine and the Wharekawa 294 acre lease were bought from the Abbot brothers by a London based company called Whangamata Proprietary Ltd. The council site says that flush with funds, the company lavished money that the site did not warrant. When the money ran out, the company reconstructed in 1899 as the Whangamata Gold  Corporation to raise more revenue from new shareholders.    At one stage there were 140 men on site, and the first crushing began in 1899. The company closed in  1901. I wonder what this bush settlement looked like. Did any women join the men?

A big thanks to Diane, Keith & Co for leading another super hike.                           



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