Day 325, Thursday 12 July 2018
Karangahake Gorge between Paeroa and Waihi is a great road for motorcyclists with 10 km of winding road along the Ohinemuri River. On a fine day, the water sparkles in the sunlight. I’ve ridden through the gorge many times and enjoyed it, but I haven’t stopped to admire the view properly or take in the history of the area until today.
I joined people from Ulysses branches around the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions for lunch at Waikino Railway Cafe in the Gorge, and then explored the Victoria Battery ruins. This was an operation to extract gold from quartz ore which ran from the late 19th century to the mid-20th. It was one of the largest industrial sites in New Zealand at the beginning of the 20th century, and the largest quartz-ore processing plant in Australasia. It employed about 200 workers at a time, but they were paid and treated poorly, and as a result this was one of early centres of union activity in New Zealand. After the Martha Mine in Waihi closed in 1952, Victoria Battery also closed, with buildings and machinery dismantled. Some buildings still exist, others have been recreated, and foundations of many more are still visible, and there are still scrapheaps of machinery. It’s an interesting place to wander around.
There aren’t many ruins in New Zealand, and very few of them are as accessible as this.
Distance travelled: 282 km. Total distance so far: 41,379 km