We love to share our favourite areas of the Bay of Plenty with guests. Places you can visit and soak up the nature, culture and heritage of the New Zealand landscape, enjoy beautiful food and drink, and engage with the locals.
About Waihi, New Zealand
The historic town of Waihi is New Zealand's 'Heart of gold', what better place to visit! Situated at the foot of the Coromandel Peninsula. Waihi is an enjoyable 40 minute drive from the French Country House and is especially notable for its history as a gold mining town.
Gold was first claimed in 1879 by William Nichol, who marked out 5 acres, 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 worlds most important gold and silver mines.
By the time the mighty Martha Mine closed in 1952, around 174,160kg of fold and 1,193,180 kg of silver had been produced from 11,932,000 tonnes of ore. Mining was stopped after a total of 160km of tunnels had been driven into the quartz of Martha Hill, gold prices had become fixed, there was a lack of manpower and increasing costs.
However mining later resumed around Waihi with a new owner 'Oceania Gold' operating in three underground mines, the largest producing 2834,9523kg of gold each year. The open pit 'Martha Mine' is not currently operating due to a large slip in the north wall in early 2016. Oceania Gold will remain in Waihi until 2017 when consents expire, whether resources are still available will determine the areas future in the Gold mine industry.
What shall we do there?
Rain or shine, Waihi is always an enjoyable day trip! This humble town has a golden history which is embraced on display side-by-side with current mining. Waihi town centre is the hub of its heritage situated right next to Martha Mine. Few parts of New Zealand can offer so much history, glimpses of the hard-fought, gold rich, pioneer lifestyle permeate the town. Step back in time, and wander through years past in today's friendly atmosphere.
Step inside the fence to experience modern-day gold mining up close, fitted in safety gear on an 11 seater van, relax and enjoy the Gold discovery centre tour. View every stage of the process from Ore extraction and crushing, through to the final processing. There is plenty of massive mining equipment on display also.
Cafes, bakeries and gift stores dot the town centre for a leisurely stroll and bite to eat before returning to the French Country House.
See www.golddiscoverycentre.co.nz for more tour information