Where did that railway go?

The railway is long gone, but if you have a sharp eye there is still plenty to see...

Karangahake

To follow the railway line today is a very rewarding trip. The remains of the rail/road bridge at western end of the Karangahake Gorge is still in use as a road bridge with the railway having been replaced by a walking bridge. The bridge leaving the tunnel is crossed on foot, and the current walkway takes us right through to the bridge at Waikino where only the original piers remain. The existing walkway bridge is higher, as the railway used to cross the main road into the Waikino Station. This is where we join the Goldfields Railway for the journey to Waihi.

Waihi

Waihi Station

The line to Athenree is more difficult to follow as much of the remains have been obliterated by development. At the eastern end of the station yard, a steel girder bridge crossed Victoria Street. A line of concrete piers carried steel bridges about 500 metres to cross the still visible historic concrete bridge over the Martha Mine Tramway at the end of Station Road. The line continued to a road crossing at the junction of Silverton & Quarry Roads, before travelling east to cross Christiansen St, through what is now a rough paddock.

The line next crossed Adams Street with a steel girder bridge, crossing Wellington Street before crossing the Ohinemuri River at the end of Rosemont Rd heading south away from town. The concrete piles and remaining embankment are worth a visit. Running parallel to State Highway Two out of Waihi, the line used a road crossing to pass over Crean Rd just after the one-way bridge over a stream. The line then followed a path through the countryside passing close to the old cheese factory crossing Ford Road about 500 metres past a creek bridge after the old Dairy Factory. The remains of a concrete culvert and lower formation are just visible on the northern side of the road.

The railway line then crossed Woodlands Road about 500 metres from the main road, again using a road crossing. The remains of earthworks and the concrete base of an aspect light signal are visible on the left. The line continued down to the intersection of Old Tauranga Rd and State Highway Two, before going under the main road where there used to be a one-way bridge about 150 metres to the north of the existing highway. This bridge has been removed, so lowering the highway. The embankment remains clearly visible on the eastern side of the road with the line then headed towards the sea away from the road.

Heading South from Waihi, Athenree Gorge towards Katikati

At the bottom of the hill with Mathers Rd is on your left the railway rejoined the highway. Travel up Mathers Rd about 1 km on breaking out of the trees, a curved embankment can be seen with the curve coming toward you before crossing the road. A local farmer has changed the shape at the closest end of the embankment, with a farm race heading further east. The earthworks cross the road by the farm gate and head into a deep cutting just visible amongst the trees about Mathers Road, opening out onto the remains of embankment. All the remaining railway formation has been destroyed by new highway construction. However it is very interesting, that the new road construction through the Athenree Gorge follows the original railway formations as surveyed and built for the railway!

The new section of the State Highway rejoins the old road near the Pancake House Café before winding around several corners to a very sharp corner. The Athenree Station was immediately above the road here and the house still there was one of the original railways working men’s quarters. A steel girder bridge crossed the road with the railway formation, continuing on between the sea and the main road. Many remains of the old formation and bridges etc can be seen from State Highway Two on the journey to Katikati.