"Waihi Beach" Waihi Beach by bwk_michael
Waihi Beach Travel Guide: 2 reviews and 13 photos
Waihi Beach is a coastal town at the western end of the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand's North Island. It lies 10 kilometres to the east of the town of Waihi, at the foot of the Coromandel Peninsula.
M¨¡ori have lived in the region since pre-European times, with numerous pa sites within a few kilometres of Waihi Beach. European settlement began in earnest with the discovery of gold in 1870, but the ores were difficult to access, and the only viable mine within the region for many years was the large Martha's Mine operation at Waihi.
Waihi Beach and the nearby settlement of Bowentown at the western end of Tauranga Harbour are popular holiday resorts. Their combined population is around 1900. Bowentown has its very own BMX track which is free for all to use, right next to a popular holiday park.
Coordinates: 37¡ã24¡äS 175¡ã56¡äE / 37.4¡ãS 175.933¡ãE / -37.4; 175.933
Waihi is a town in Hauraki District in the North Island of New Zealand, especially notable for its history as a gold mine town. It had a population of 4,503 at the 2006 census.
The town is at the foot of the Coromandel Peninsula, close to the western end of the Bay of Plenty. The nearby resort town of Waihi Beach, ten kilometres to the east, is often regarded as the westernmost point of the Bay of Plenty region. To the west are the hills of the Kaimai Ranges. Road access from this direction is through the winding Karangahake Gorge road. Waihi has an unusually wet and damp microclimate for New Zealand's east coast with an average annual rainfall of 2147 mm.
Waihi is located in the Coromandel district, which was one of the great gold mining districts of the world. The township grew around the mining operations since the discovery of gold in 1878 by prospectors John McCombie and Robert Lee. The samples of rock they had sent to be assayed were not considered worthwhile, so they left the area.
Their claim was taken over by William Nicholl in 1879. He marked out 5 acres (20,000 m2), calling his claim 'Martha' after a family member. Several smaller claims were later merged to form the Martha Company. By 1882 the first battery to break gold-bearing rock was in operation. The Martha Mine eventually grew into one of the world's most important gold and silver mines, after industrial cyanide processes made recovering gold from the low-grade ores easier. Waihi prospered with the mine, by 1908 being the fastest-growing town in the Auckland Province, three times the size of Hamilton.
Waihi was also a major centre of union unrest in New Zealand during the early years of the 20th century. The 1912 miners' strike led to violence in an incident which still causes some resentment in the town.
Martha Mine, WaihiBy 1952, when the mighty Martha Mine closed, around 5.6 million ounces (174,160kg) of gold and 38.4 million ounces (1,193,180kg) of silver had been produced from 11,932,000 tonnes of ore. Mining stopped in 1952 after a total of 160 km of tunnels had been driven into the quartz of Martha Hill, not because the Martha had run out of gold, but rather because of fixed gold prices, lack of manpower, and increasing costs. Mining in the Coromandel Peninsula had otherwise ceased by the 1980s.
However, mining later resumed, with some protests against it during the 1987 consent process. Plans to stop operations in the 2000s were eventually shelved as well, and the Newmont Mining corporation is currently (2009) actively investing in extending the further economic life of the mine and the underground operations in nearby Favona. As of 2009, the mine comprises about 25-30% of the local economy.
In November 1905, a branch line railway was opened to Waihi from Paeroa; this eventually evolved into the East Coast Main Trunk Railway, which reached Taneatua in 1928. By the 1960s, traffic volumes for the port of Tauranga had outgrown the capacity of the circuitous line through Waihi and a deviation to the south was built. It opened in 1978, making the line through Waihi redundant, but the Goldfields Railway was established to save the six kilometres of railway between Waihi and Waikino. The railway continues to operate today and is a popular tourist attraction.
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