Mount Maratoto / Golden Cross Mine

Sunday 29 April 2012

Just a few kilometres north of the Karangahake Gorge and just over halfway down the Thames-Paeroa Highway, Maratoto Rd heads eastward from Hikuwai into the Coromandel Ranges.
Three-quarters of the way along this no-exit road we stopped to view and take photos of Mount Maratoto, a very steep rock thrusting up at an angle that looked way too steep to climb to the top.

Mount Maratoto There is a way up via a relatively okay unofficial track that could take you a long time to find unless you knew where to start. Twenty-four trampers made their way up this track to re-group at the three-quarter mark.

Nineteen decided to take the final, very steep section to the summit to be rewarded with stunning views of the Coromandel Ranges and the Hauraki Plains. There was also a view back down to the end of Maratoto Rd where the club bus looked like a little blue spot on the landscape.
Back down again to have lunch at the bus before tackling part two, the out- and-back tramp through to the former Golden Cross Mine.

Between 1895 and 1920 the mine produced just over two-and-a-half tonnes of gold. Seventy years later, the mine was re-opened, both underground and open pit, and produced a further 20 tonnes of gold and 52 tonnes of silver before its planned closure in 1998.The government of the day held a 12 million dollar bond from the mining company that ensured the area was rehabilitated back to its pre-mining state. The area is now used for grazing, wetland and native habitat.

The route mainly follows the course of the Maratoto Stream and we criss-crossed this several times as we climbed up and over the bush-clad hills to emerge into farmland with lots of sheep grazing on the slopes. Time and light dictated that we did not stay too long here, but most opted to go as far as the very picturesque tailings lake for another photo opportunity.

This area can also be accessed via the road-end at Waikino so we had done it in the only way true trampers should, by track and not by road.

It was a great day out in the bush and worth the nearly four hours of driving to explore an area pretty much new to just about everybody. The weather was rain free but a bit overcast which was ideal for successfully summiting Mount Maratoto - bad weather usually means having to abandon this climb.

Overall tramp time was close to six hours inclusive of lunch. The group included six non-members who all did very well. We hope some of them will return for further tramps and become members.

: Ian W. Morris