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  • Day133

    Karangahake - Gold Rush

    November 9, 2017 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    The drive leaving the Coromandel peninsula ended in a valley. This area was the center of a gold rush. Waihi, the bigger town, had a giant open pit mine. You could walk along the edge and take a look at the giant haul truck. Excurions go in but occasionally they still operate the mine as well.

    A little further along the valley was the place where it all started, Karangahake. We learned about the interaction between Maori and European explorers. The Maori saw spiritual significance in the beautiful forest covered valley, carved out by long waterfalls and rapids. But as Europeans brought in luxuries, Maori quickly built up debt to them. When developers saw the potential of gold mining, they had to come to agreements with the Maori landowners. Although Maori originally resisted, developers used the Maori debt as leverage. They were quickly convinced they had to either sell the land or allow development and sell the gold itself.

    Since the collapse of the gold rush, nature has quickly taken over the mining ruins. Old mine shafts are grown over and the buildings themselves have crumbled over time. Just a few well-built bridges, mine tunnels and rails are used as paths to teach visitors the history of this place. The process of mining, extraction, and disposing of waste rock in the river were interesting. And the beautiful waterfalls still remain, easier to access because of all this past activity. A bit bitter-sweet.
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