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May 2, 2015 … revisiting old haunts

Friday was the day for field trips at the photographic convention.

At the edge of the abyss. The Martha open-pit gold mine in Waihi

I chose to visit the Martha Gold Mine at Waihi. From about 1970 through about 1984 I was a regular visitor to the electronics factory in Waihi, Back then the price of gold was such that extraction form the remains of the old Martha Mine was uneconomic. Subsequent events have seen the development of the massive open cast mine that exists today. It seems it was an inopportune time for a visit by a bunch of photographers. During the week there had been a large subsidence which carried away the access road used by the giant haulers to carry the ore from the pit to the processing plant. In addition, the mine has h=just been sold by its present American owners to an Australian company. Everything was at a  standstill.

The landslide made the lower reaches of the pit inaccessible for now

Nevertheless, the pit is spectacular and the 45 minute walk around the rim was very pleasant.

Pump house
The remains of the old Cornish Pump Engine’s house peers above the rim of the pit. Waihi township can be glimpsed through the trees behind it.

Photographers must be one of the few groups who hate it when there is a clear cloudless sky.  Everybody else is exclaiming over the beautiful day, and the photographers are looking for cunning ways to avoid a boring empty sky.

In the tracks

From the mine, we got back on our bus and went to the Goldfields railway at the Western end of Waihi township. There is a small residual section of the railway that this preservation society can use to run short train rides behind a rather nondescript diesel shunter.

Vintage steam engine, covered in dust and rarely steamed

However grander things are in view, and at the very back in the darkest corner of the shed, there was a lovely little 1938 Peckett 0-4-2T steam engine.

Corrosion of the a serious kind

Our next stop was at the tea-rooms in the old Waikino railway station where lunch was provided prior to a walk through a part of the old rail trail through the Karangahake Gorge. This led past the remains of the old Victoria Battery which was built in 1897 to stamp the ore extracted form the mines nearby for subsequent chemical extraction of the gold. The old concrete footings of the once extensive plant and some corroding remains of the cyanide tanks are fascinating to explore.

Owharoa falls with a clear blue sky

A kilometre or so further on, there is access to the Owharoa Falls which are pretty without being overpowering.

Tauranga Harbour just before we placed our dinner order. It was dark before we ate.

On our return to Tauranga, we were left to our own devices until the convention programme resumed in the early evening. Paul and I went to the inner harbour area in Tauranga city. The evening was still and there were many patrons int he many bars and restaurants along the sea wall. We saw people eating fish and chips outside an obviously well patronised fish shop, so we decided hat fresh fish would be good. Popularity is well and good but comes at a cost. The 45 minute wait between order and delivery of a simple fish and chip dish must make this the slowest fast-food” joint in history. We had thought to watch the sun go down as we ate our meal. It was very dark when we got it.  The food was good, though.

More tomorrow