76. Broken Hills

Still officially in Coromandel country, just, we spent two nights and just one full day at Puketui DoC Camp where we had a look at some of the past mining activity. I climbed into a gully at one point to do a bit of extra exploring and looking at minerals, while Kevin cleared out a partially blocked gutter dug into the ground.

The Puketui campsite is located on an old gold mining town of the same name that thrived in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s, holding a population of around 200. Mining was carried out on both sides of the river, high onto the main range.

The final bit of road into Puketui was narrow and winding, but didn’t last long. We were a bit worried about meeting oncoming traffic, but that didn’t happen, neither on the way in or out. We met a couple of workers on the side of the road on the way in though – one of them said he really likes the Nelson region as he can hunt deer, pigs and goats there. Huh? We hadn’t thought about the lack of these beasties on the Coromandel Peninsula, but now that he mentioned it, it became obvious they weren’t in residence.

Our next stop after this will be – Rotorua! It will be great to be amongst all that volcanic activity and learn a bit more about it.

The camp site is extensive and set into several different areas, so if there were a few different groups they would all be able to have privacy.
The rhyolitic cliffs behind the camp, that lie on the other side of the Tairua River. You can easily see a section on the cliff on the road in that contains a zeolite within the rhyolitic matrix called mordenite, but we found it difficult to stop anywhere to have a proper look.
This shows what the tracks were like – easy!
The Broken Hills Battery.
There were quite a few of these adits on the sides of the track – mostly around the Broken Hills Battery and Gem of the Boom Creek. We figured there must be quite a few we couldn’t see, too. Of course we had to look in the ones we found – lucky that Kev always has a torch on him.
This one had a skeleton in it! It was freaky thinking a person might have died in there, but of course it was just some trickster who had gathered up a few sheep or cow bones and lain them down on the platform.
There’s a mine in the background here – we’re now in Gem of the Boom Creek, where we walk upstream and return in a loop down the other side…
…crossing back over the creek on this bridge.
We walked back the way we’d come along the main track, and continued on past our point of entry to visit the Golden Hills Battery.
There was plenty to see on the way, including this mine, current and working using all the old methods.
The working mine is all locked up...
…but I took this photo using flash through the mesh.
Here’s a second adit; this one looks disused.
Again I photographed the inside.
Here we are, at the Golden Hills Battery.
We could see this on a lower level, so climbed down to it.
Hmm…we had a few theories going on, but this might be a kiln, where wood was burned into charcoal.
Everywhere, you can find relics lying around from old mining activity.
At the Golden Hills Battery we pushed our way to the Tairua River which was only a few metres away. On the other side is where all the main range gold mining workings lie, and across and further downstream is where the camp sits.
Heading back out we stopped to look at the Main Range – if you tramp through these hills for many hours you will eventually reach Thames.
After leaving Puketui we spent a night back at Waihi Beach, freedom camping on the foreshore this time – last time we stayed at the NZMCA park up. It felt like coming home, and we took a good long walk along the beach. I was still having times where I was gasping for air, so in beautiful Waihi I visited the medical centre to talk with the nurse, who asked if I had trouble with low iron. Of course! A long-time issue for me, one I forgot about being on holiday. I bought some supplements and some red meat and we got on our way to Rotorua, the improvement in the symptoms pretty immediate.

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