The Windows Walk in the Karangahake Gorge is a short walk through an area with relics from a gold mining period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The walk can be done as a loop, with the windows section in one direction and the Crown Tramway Track in the other direction, both of them running parallel to the Waitawheta River, near the junction with Ohinemuri River. Numerous information panels describe some of the history of the area, with photos of the extensive buildings which once were located here.
The walk is easily accessible from a parking area off State Highway 2 at the western end of Karangahake Gorge. Toilets are located by the parking area. Information about the walk can be found on the Department of Conservation web site. A torch is very strongly recommended for walking through the mine tunnel with the windows looking into the Waitawheta Gorge. The Crown Tramway Track may be closed during heavy rain or when there have been rockfalls, and the underground pumphouse mentioned on the DoC web site has been closed off for several years now. Continue reading
The Waitawheta Tramway Track follows a tramline used in the early 20th century to extract wood from the Waitawheta Valley, first for gold mining operations, and then Kauri logs and timber. The tramway runs for almost 10 km from Franklin Rd (off Waitawheta Rd) to a sawmill site and the Waitawheta Hut. There are 8 crossings of the Waitawheta River, with all except one of them now spanned by bridges. There is a detour track available which bypasses the unbridged crossing.
The tramway has a gentle slope, rising from about 160 m above sea level at Franklin Rd, to about 380 m at the Waitawheta Hut. Most of the track is easy to walk, with only a few short washed out sections. Several remains from the tramway and milling can be seen along the way.
Dickey Flat Campsite in the Karangahake Gorge is the starting point of various walks in the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park. The Mangakino Pack Track Loop is one of the longer and most difficult of the loop walks starting and ending at the campsite. The tracks making up this loop have various names depending on the source, which can be confusing. For example the Mangakino Pack Track is also known as Mangakino Track and Mangakino Stream Track. Dickey Flat is also called Dickey’s Flat on older DoC signs.
The campsite, with parking area and basic toilet facilities, is located at the end of Dickey Flat Road, off Kennedy Rd and Waitawheta Rd. The last part of Dickey Flat Rd is a narrow, gravel road.