Hiking Karangahake Gorge Walk In New Zealand


Located between Paeroa and Waihi, the Karangahake Gorge is an old mining site where you can hike through tunnels, along train tracks, and through old caves. In addition to offering you access to beautiful nature, hiking the Karangahake Gorge walk allows you to explore New Zealand’s rich history.

If you are new to the Karangahake Gorge hike, you may not know where to start after donning your hiking boots and grabbing your hiking backpack. By showing you everything you need to know about the Karangahake Gorge walk, we hope to help you have an easier time on the hiking trail.

Getting to the Karangahake Gorge Walk

The Karangahake Gorge is located in New Zealand’s North Island. The nearest well-known cities include Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, and Rotorua.

While major airports do not exist right next to the gorge, you can fly to the larger cities, especially Auckland, both internationally and domestically, before making your way to the gorge over land. The Karangahake Gorge is a 1-hour drive from Hamilton and Tauranga and a 2-hour drive from Rotorua and Auckland.

When to Go

You can explore Karangahake Gorge throughout the year – this is made possible by New Zealand’s temperate climate. However, your experience may vary depending on when you are in the Gorge:


Summer months usually bring a large number of visitors. November through March are generally the busiest months in all the tourist attractions, including Karangahake Gorge.

Summer features hot weather and while you may not have to deal with rain, the hikes may be more difficult under the hot weather. When hiking in summer, be sure to start the hikes early enough and pack enough water for the hike.

Fall and Spring

Fall and spring can be the most ideal times of the year to visit the gorge. During these 2 seasons, the gorge is less crowded and the temperature is much more favorable compared to summer.

In Spring, the gorge will be blooming with color and life. In autumn, everything will turn to the wonder-shades of orange, brown, and yellow as the vegetation starts to shed its leaves.


The winter lasts between June and September. The winter weather is generally not that pleasant. If possible, try to avoid visiting the gorge during the winter season.

Highlights of the Karangahake Gorge Hike

The Hauraki Rail Trail

This is a rather modern development that has regenerated the old mining railway available at the Karangahake Gorge. The trail features a long network of cycle tracks that can be hiked or biked, and the section available at the Karangahake Gorge is one the best parts of the eighty kilometers that can be accessed by the public.

The trail connects the Thames to Waihi. Starting, ending, and even passing through the gorge itself, the trail is one of the best ways of experiencing the Karangahake Gorge.

The Historic Walkway

This track follows the course of an old railway line that runs between Waihi and Paeroa and that forms part of the Hauraki Rail Trail.

Leave your car at the Karangahake Gorge carpark, apply your sunscreen correctly, grab all your important hiking gear, follow the rail track, and then the river, all the way to a town known as Waikino. Once you arrive at the town, you can either walk back to the carpark or hitch a ride back.

The length of the Walkway is 7 kilometers, which can be completed in approximately 2 hours of easy strolling, one way. For the complete journey, including the return, you will need an average of 4 hours.

If you have your hiking camera while exploring this route, you should be able to take pictures of incredible natural sceneries. You will also get to see most of the historic parts of the gorge, including darkened tunnels, abandoned shafts, and old mining batteries.

The Rail Tunnel Loop


If it is impossible for you to complete the Karangahake Gorge hike via the Historic Walkway, another ideal way of seeing what the gorge has to offer is tackling the shorter Rail Tunnel Loop.

Part of the Rail Tunnel Loop follows the same path as the History Walkway trail before looping back to the carpark. From the Gorge, you will need to follow the path to Crown battery, before making your way through a 1-kilometer mining tunnel.

After emerging from the tunnel, you will need to turn around to complete the loop back to the carpark, instead of carrying on to Waikino. The whole trip will take about 60 minutes, covering approximately 2.5 kilometers.

Windows Walk

If you decide to follow the Windows Walk after donning your hiking hat, the trail will take you across one of the most interesting suspension bridges to bring you into one of the oldest mining zones. At just 2.5 kilometers, the Windows Walk is one of the easiest Karangahake Gorge hikes. However, by the time you finish exploring the entire trail, you will be immersed in the Karangahake Gorge history.

After crossing the river, you will walk through tunnels hand-carved into cliffs by gold miners, past the last gold boom vestiges, and along disused rail tracks. The walk gets its name from the huge windows carved out of the rocks to let in air and light for the workers. Today, those windows offer incredible views over the natural sceneries.

The Victoria Battery

The ruins of the Victoria Battery are located towards the end of the Historic Walkway, as you near the Waikino town. If you do not intend to walk the whole Historic Walkway, you can drive to Waikino town and then walk the short distance from the town to the battery.

The Victoria Battery was built towards the end of the nineteenth century. The impressive installation facilitated the crushing of ore and rocks to extract gold.

Owharoa Falls

This is a beautiful collection of 3 waterfalls found in the Karangahake Gorge walk. The waterfalls are just a couple of kilometers from where the Karangahake Gorge hike begins.

You can walk to the falls via the Historical Walkway. Alternatively, you can leave the car in the carpark available just off the main highway, grab your lightweight backpack, put on your hiking sunglasses, and then take a short stroll to the waterfalls.

The layered, lovely, cascade waterfalls are surrounded by beautiful forests and feature some great plunge pools below. If you are exploring this part of the Karangahake Gorge during the summer season, diving in the pools can help you cool off.

Globo Surf Overview

In addition to allowing you to be close to nature, the Karangahake Gorge walk allows you to learn New Zealand’s history. In this article, we have shown you some of the highlights you should expect when exploring the gorge. To have a good time on the gorge, be sure to wear the right hiking clothing (depending on the weather) and carry any additional gear you may need on the trails.

More Backpacking/Hiking Reviews:


  1. Karangahake Gorge – Thecoromandel.com
Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!