view over the river of a bridge and rocks on walking trail

Karangahake Railway Tunnel Walk – A Complete Guide

The Karangahake Railway Tunnel walk is one of the trails in Karangahake Gorge. It’s a picturesque hike with some interesting history and things to see along the way. We stopped to stretch our legs on our road trip from the Coromandel Peninsula to Rotorua.

Where is Karangahake Gorge?

The gorge is situated on State Highway 2 between Paeroa and Waihi on New Zealand‘s North Island. It is easy to get to from Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, and Tauranga.

How do you get to Karangahake Gorge?

It will take about 2 hours by car from Auckland along SH1 and then SH2. It is 5 minutes past Paeroa.

When is the best time to visit?

There isn’t a best time to do this walk. A fine day would be better though to make the most of the stunning scenery.


Where can you park?

There are two car parks; one by the Karangahake Hall and the other is the Karangahake Domain car park. Both are just off State Highway 2.

We parked at Karangahake Hall as it is the closest one to the rail tunnel.

Karangahake Railway Tunnel Walk

Length and walk time of Railway Tunnel Loop

The Railway Tunnel walk is a 2.5km loop trail that will take around 90 minutes to complete. It is an easy walk but not suitable for wheelchairs.

Karangahake Railway Tunnel Walk distance guide

The walking track

If you start at Karangahake Hall, take a look at the old battery before heading up to the bridge.

Karangahake gorge

You will cross the pedestrian bridge over the river and highway before heading into the rail tunnel.

Karangahake Railway Tunnel bridge

The tunnel was built between 1900 and 1905 to transport mining material and gold to and from Waihi. This replaced the pack horses that did the job previously. It used to be the busiest gold mine in New Zealand.

It is 1086m long but the time went quickly, and we enjoyed the walk through it. There are lights but it can still be quite dark and there were some puddles of water when we went. It is definitely a great feature to have on a walking trail.

Karangahake Railway Tunnel

Once out of the tunnel, you cross another bridge back over the river. Turn right and follow the Ohinemuri River.

It’s a beautiful scenic walk, and there are plenty of opportunities for photogrtaphy enthusiasts.

Karangahake gorge river track

You then come to a swing bridge that takes you across the Waitawheta River. There is a second swing bridge that leads into the main car park. Cross this for toilets and water. There are also rubbish bins provided here.

To carry on the walk, cross back over the bridge, turn right and follow the river back to the Karangahake Hall car park.

Windows Walk

You can extend this walk by taking the Windows Walk which starts just before the Swing Bridge and finishes the other side of it. This trail is also 2.5km and will take an additional hour and a half.


Tips

  • Take a torch or use your phone light in the tunnel
  • Make sure you have plenty of water for your walk
  • Dogs are not allowed on this part of the trail
  • Toilets and water can be found at Karangahake Domain car park
  • Remember your camera
  • Allow enough time to explore the area

Map of Karangahake Gorge

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Karangahake Trails Brochure

You can download a copy of the brochure on the Department of Conversation’s website. This also shows a map of the walking trail and where the car parks are located.

Other Hikes on New Zealand’s North island

New Zealand has some of best scenery in the world and what better way to see it than on a hike. The Karangahake Trail and Cathedral Cove Walk are some of the best hikes in the North Island.

Accommodation

We stayed in a 2-bedroom suite at the Best Western in Rotorua and would stay there again. It was centrally based, good value, and had a separate kitchen, dining and lounge area. The resort included free Wi-Fi, mini golf and a heated pool with spa pool.

As usual, we booked through Booking.com due to their competitive pricing and free cancellation on most properties.

Read more about the property here.

swimming pool in a resort
Karangahake gorge river views