Wow. These Karangahake Gorge walks are amazing.
There’s plenty of variety, and for you Auckland readers, you’re less than two hours away from the Karangahake Gorge.
I can’t believe I wasn’t familiar with the Karangahake Gorge until 2020. Sometimes you just need to trust a recommendation from others.
These walks range in difficulty from easy to medium and given the way the tracks are set up you can mix and match them (you’ll see how this can be done on the map).
There are various car parks around the Karangahake Gorge but all of these walks start from the main car park (here), opposite Talisman Cafe.
1. Windows Walk (easy | 30 mins – 1 hour)
2. Rails Tunnel Loop (easy | 40 minutes – 1 hour)
3. Karangahake Mountain (medium | 2 – 3.5 hours)
4. Karangahake Historic Walkway (easy | 3 – 5 hours return)
5. Dickey Flat Falls (easy-medium | 80 mins – 2.5 hours return)
6. A map of the walks
7. Karangahake Gorge accommodation
1. KARANGAHAKE GORGE WINDOWS WALK
The shortest Karangahake Gorge walk packs in a lot. In less than an hour you’ll:
- see relics from the mining era
- walk through a tunnel (your phone torch will be okay)
- visit a lookout point
- walk along the Waitawheta River at the base of the gorge
- get a chance to look out the windows down to the gorge below
If you’re like me and were expecting actual windows, you’re out of luck (for good reason, they’d be a massive safety hazard). The windows are large window-like holes carved out of the cliff face for you to have awesome views.
RELATED POST: WALKS IN THE KAIMAI RANGES
2. KARANGAHAKE TUNNEL WALK (LOOP)
At a tad over 3km this Karangahake walk is also good value.
After crossing the swing bridge you follow the Ohinemuri River west before crossing the next bridge over the river and the highway. The bridge leads straight into the 1.1km tunnel which is awesome to walk through.
It’s well lit, but you will want to have at least a phone torch so you can make sure you don’t walk into any of the muddy patches. You can see the exit when you enter, so it’s not confined like the tunnels on the Windows Walk and Dickey Flat Falls track.
Emerging out the other side you cross the river again and turn right for the final stretch of the loop following the river.
3. KARANGAHAKE MOUNTAIN
When you’re at the car park, you can spot the trig at the summit of Mount Karangahake (assuming there’s no cloud lingering).
This walk is a bit of a slog up the hill, but the majority of the track is wide and comfortable with only one section of tricky single track incline (older kids will be able to get up with no problem).
You get views on the way up, but the summit views are superior to any other. Make the effort to get to the summit!
I was lucky enough to be here for sunset, I’d love to go up for sunrise one day.
Given you’re coming here for the views, it’s best hiked on a clear day. As I love chasing peaks, this is my favourite of the walks in the Karangahake Gorge.
GET THE FULL DETAILS: THE MT KARANGAHAKE SUMMIT WALK
4. KARANGAHAKE GORGE HISTORIC WALKWAY
This is an out and back walk following the Ohinemuri River. There’s a couple of spots that make this walk historic, though most people will be cycling along here on the Waihi to Paeroa section of the Hauraki Rail Trail.
Owharoa Waterfall: A gorgeous waterfall that’s easy to access. You can swim at the base of the falls if you like.
Victoria Battery: Constructed in the last 1890s by the Waihi Gold Mining Company, the facility was a modern ore processing facility. There’s also a small train ride and a museum with limited opening hours.
Unnamed Waterfall: I haven’t been able to find a name for this small waterfall. You’ll see a sign about 2.5km into the walk pointing you towards it. It’s small and not powerful at all, but I thought it was really pretty.
p.s. I don’t say that last part lightly.
5. DICKEY FLAT FALLS
Following the Waitawheta River through the gorge, you can go via the Windows Walk by continuing beyond the turn around point. There are stretches of old pipes from the mining boom on the way as you meander through the forest and a couple of inviting swimming holes.
There are two waterfalls, you can’t miss them. One is unique in that it comes straight out of a cave, I’ve never seen anything like it. And right alongside the waterfalls is a 200 metre tunnel you can walk through if you want to continue on further. You’ll definitely need a torch (yes you can survive with your phone torch).
6. A MAP OF THE KARANGAHAKE GORGE WALKS
Click on the icon on the top left of the map to see the individual walks. As you can see the walks cross over a fair amount. You’ll need to zoom in to get a good grasp of where you’re going exactly.
7. KARANGAHAKE GORGE ACCOMMODATION
In terms of accommodation, I stayed at Riverside Accommodation which has both dorm and private rooms. The host, Anita, is great and the place is super cozy. And best of all it’s across the road from lots of the trailheads.
There are plenty of Airbnb options in/around Karangahake Gorge too.
I love these Karangahake Gorge walks (some are definitely hikes) and will be back to visit Karangahake Gorge in the future. Any place where you can leave your accommodation and be at the trailhead of 5+ tracks in a matter of a couple of minutes is going to be amazing.
OTHER NEARBY WALKS
Between Matamata and Te Aroha is the glorious Wairere Falls. With two viewpoints, you really do need to go to the upper one.
This is further north in the coromandel, but the Wharekirauponga waterfall is one of those hidden gems
If you’re feeling really ambitious you can walk from Karangahake to Mount Te Aroha, the highest summit in the Kaimais. Or you can just go up from the trailhead in Te Aroha.