Auckland Baptist Tramping Club

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Ten people had a lovely weekend away staying at Whangamata and looking at three popular tramps in the area - the well-known Wentworth-Maratoto traverse of the Coromandel Ranges on the Saturday, plus two old gold mines on the Sunday.


We left The Bracken at 6:15pm in a hired van, and after the mandatory dinner stop on the Bombay hills, travelled nonstop to our accommodation, Grant and Cherryís bach in Whangamata.


Our heads were off the wentilillos early, we had our Goldilocks breakfast, and before we set out Cherry shared from the book her church was using for the Forty Days Of Purpose course. She took the chapter on how God created everything, including ourselves, for His pleasure. It was Godís choice to create us for His pleasure - everything we do can be an act of worship when we do it as if for Jesus, and carry on a continual coversation with Him - walking, working, playing, conversation with other people, etc. The more thankful we are for what we have the more joy we have in our hearts and more smile we put on Godís face.
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Base map: NZTopoOnline, extracted May 2004, Crown Copyright Reserved  

We all piled into the van, and Cherry drove us to the start of the Wentworth Walk track by 9:15am. This followed up the Wentworth Valley through native bush, with one or two stream crossings.
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After about an hour we came to a short side track leading to a viewing platform where we could see the double cascade of the Wentworth Falls
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The main track continued on an easy uphill gradient, going past the top of the Wentworth Falls.
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We stopped for elevenses about 11am, just 50 metres short of the summit and boundary with the Whangamata Track. The summit (no views) was marked with a gate - the Wentworth Walk is for tramping only, while trailbikes are permitted on the Whangamata Track.
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The previous two times the Club did this tramp we went straight ahead along the Whangamata Track. This time we had a look at the Loop Track, a two hour trailbike track winding through the plateau past the site of a former mining/logging settlement - unfortunately the settlement is not signposted nor are there any remains.
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About three-quarters of the way along the Loop Track we crossed the headwaters of the Tairua River and could look down the valley.
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We came out back onto the Whangamata Track about half a kilometre from the start of the Wires Track. It was about 1pm when we had our lunch on a grass area at the start of this track.
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The Wires Track, taking its name from the diversion of the Auckland-Wellington telegraph line along here during the Waikato land wars of the 1870s, is a steady and often steep descent down into the Maratoto Valley. This benched track was overgrown, but still easy to follow, and started with a series of steps cut into rock cuttings to help pack-horses on their journey to and from Whangamata. About one-third of the way down the track climbed to follow a ridge with one or two glimpses of the valley below.
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Near the finish we stopped for a break beside a stream.
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The final 100m of the track was across farmland. We were out about 3:15pm, but were then faced with an uphill slog to the carpark at the end of the road before we could take our boots off and rest our tired feet inside the van, which Cherry had driven around for us.
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We stopped for ice creams at Paeroa, and made another stop at the deep opencast Martha gold mine in Waihi. One of the yellow dump trucks was on display - from a distance these look like normal road vehicles, but each wheel alone stands much taller than a person!
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Back in Whangamata, Grant and Cherry cooked up a lovely BBQ dinner.
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Afterwards some of us went into town to watch the Super 12 rugby at one of Whangamataís many bars. John, Paul and Alex walked back to the house via the town wharf and the long ocean beach, enjoying the rising moon over the calm seas.


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Base map: NZTopoOnline, extracted May 2004, Crown Copyright Reserved  

Up nice and early, this time for a BBQ bacon-and-egg breakfast. We all had our bags packed before setting out for the Parakiwai Track south of Whangamata, which we started about 9am. We soon got our feet wet crossing a ford.

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It was obvious that the track was an old railway, with its wooden sleepers and cuttings in places. The tramway was built in 1896 for horses to take ore from the Golden Sovereign mine, a task they never did as the mine was abandoned the following year with not a speck of gold taken.
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About one-and-a-half hours along the easy - and sometimes muddy -  track we came to a clearing not far from the site of a battery that crushed not a single lump of ore.
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The track climbed up to go through a short tunnel. We passed a mine entrance, and the track finished at the stream above a waterfall into the gorge below, and below another waterfall cascading a pool so nice that one of us braved the cold water for a swim!
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It was 12 midday when we returned to our van the way we came. After a lunch of filled bread rolls at the house, we packed the van and headed into the Tairua Forest north of Whangamata for the one-hour walk to the Luck At Last Mine, a pleasant tramp through bush and pines with good views of stream and valley. Before we set out, Cherry reminded us that all we really need is Jesus. She told us that she and her husband had locked away a large amount of gifts, including some expensive items, they had accumulated over the years because they were not using them - and they donít miss them one bit!
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Base map: NZTopoOnline, extracted May 2004, Crown Copyright Reserved  

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The battery site of the Luck At Last Mine was impressive. The battery itself started operation in 1899. Many relics of the batteryís two-year life remain - the cyanide pits for separating the gold and silver from the ore, pressure pipe and many of the cast iron bowls that rotated, causing thousands of small steel balls inside them to turn the crushed ore into a coarse powder.
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Time did not allow us to explore the rest of the mine - old drives (mine tunnels), the water race and sites of the billiard salon, bakerís oven, smithy shop and staff cottages that would have taken an extra hour easily to look at. We returned the same way to the van and headed homewards, stopping at Kopu for tummy-charging - the van with Mobil and us with Magnums - and we were back at The Bracken by 5:30pm, bringing to a finish a lovely weekend away.

COST:  $57 (travel in rental van $30; accommodation $15; food $12)