Initially I planned to ride a bit more River Trail but, after a Facebook enabled reconnection, instead met up with an Adventure South cycling friend who lives in the Waikato. It was great to catch up, relive past shared cycle travels and hear about her new ones. Going home via Putaruru gave me a chance to visit somewhere I've driven past many times but never made time to stop. Since that was the point of this summer exploring, I did stop.
Putaruru Blue Springs Walk
I did a short walk (TO2122-W07) from Leslie Road, near Putaruru, to the Blue Springs. They claim to be one of the purest water sources in the world and are the source of 60% of NZ's bottled water.
I think 'tap water is fine' so find the mix of natural purity and plastic bottling conflicting but, other than a pumphouse, there is not much sign of industry at the springs.
The water is incredibly clear, the swaying plants mesmerising (see video below).
The time you wish smartphones had a polarising filter option!
This was the first place on the trip where I encountered lots of other tourists. The short walk, about 1.5km, makes it popular for family groups and is easy enough for those with strollers etc.
I recorded a short Walk the Pod contribution here, took several attempts to not record passing groups...
Walk the Pod | WtP S23E5 | Blue Spring water 💙
Featuring a walking report from Kiwi Rob, this is the first Friyay episode of the new series.
In this episode of your daily walking show, Walk the Pod, I take my podcast for a walk because I don't have a dog. Take 10 minutes out of your day to walk in nature, pay attention to what’s directly in front of you and think about how to be in the world. I've been making daily episodes of Walk the Pod since November 2020. This is the fifth episode of Series 23 of the podcast.
There's no swimming; both for cleanliness and safety but I suspect the chilly 11°C water temperature helps with that. The water takes 50-100 years to filter down from the Mamakau - Kaimai Ranges at 42 cubic metres per minute which gives a rapid flow.
It's worth walking past this (above) viewpoint, over the hill, as you see the Waihou River in a more natural bush setting. The steps also put off many, meant this part was comparatively peaceful. The longer Te Waihou Walkway, off Whites Rd, approaches the springs from this direction.
Hauraki Rail Trail | Paeroa to Wāihi
From Putaruru I headed home via Paeroa to revisit my favourite leg of the Hauraki Rail Trail: Section C (on their map below) from Paeroa through the Karangahake Gorge to Waihi (TO2122-61).
Left the car near the trail in Paeroa and headed towards Waihi.
The trail follows the Ohinemuri River towards and through Karangahake Gorge.
Access to the gorge follows the abandoned railway line. This bridge over the river leads to a respite from the summer heat.
The 1100-metre-long tunnel is lovely and cool, like riding into air-conditioning!
Although lit it is dimmer than appears in the photo. It's still worthwhile running lights so other cyclists and walkers, as is a shared path, know you are coming.
The Karangahake Gorge is beautiful but demands respect as conditions in here can change rapidly.
I still remember driving through in a winter storm. The river level was up near the road, which was closed soon after.
This is a popular swimming spot; on my return ride a group were tube rafting the river here.
The former rail trail nature is more evident in some places, a lack of hills a nice rail legacy.
Amazing to still see paddocks this green in January, usually starting to turn summer gold.
I headed straight into Waihi and, before getting some lunch (a mistake), did a lap of the Martha Hill Mine perimeter trail.
It's a shared gravel path which skirts the vast opencast pit. Easy to find thanks to the No. 5 ‘Cornish’ Pumphouse on top of the hill at the end of Seddon Street. It was built in 1904 but not where it is in the photo. In 2006 it was moved 300m as was at risk from subsidence, common in this area due to the extensive historic underground mining.
Commemorative WW1 ANZAC poppies on the pit fence.
Since my last visit there has been a massive landslide in the pit. The mine is still operational producing 35,000-45,000oz oz gold per year, with another 8-10 years production expected.
For comparison, how it looked back in 2015.
The trail surface is good but there are a few short steep climbs. I met a guy on a recumbent hand-trike who was coping with it ok. He was travelling in a mobile home and doing day rides along the way.
They say not to stop... in the truck blind spot...
I went back into town looking for lunch but due to COVID reduced hours lots of places were closed or closing. In the end I just got something to eat on the run as was still avoiding indoor eating.
Back at the railway station the last train of the day had just arrived. You can jump on at Waihi or Waikino Station for a 30-minute trip with your bike. It is a great option for those who don't want to cycle all the way.
I rode back, the late afternoon lighting was nice and offered some shade.
View from the suspension bridge over Ohinemuri River.
Love this deep cutting, shade offering more coolth for the cyclist! As I write this, in July 2022, they are clearing a winter storm landslide blocking it.
The Victoria Battery: Remains of an industrial ore processing site which operated from 1897 — 1952. They used kilns and cyanide to extract gold from the ore. While most of the infrastructure has been removed there are signs along the trail where the cyanide legacy lingers.
A sign showing the Victoria Battery in its prime.
Back across the gorge and into that wonderful tunnel.
Heading back to Paeroa in the early evening before driving back to Auckland to plan the next adventure.
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