Waihi Goldmining

Engineering Site (eg Portland cement works, Maori fortifications)


Much innovative engineering was needed to support gold mining at Waihi, in the Coromandel, during its working life from 1878 to 1952, including tunnels, shafts, a spiral railway and a hyrdo-electric power station.

Waihi fostered the developed of the cyanide process formerly used worldwide to extract gold from low grade ores.

The Martha Mine at Waihi was the site of the greatest gold strike in New Zealand. Under the control of the London-based Waihi Company, and with the use of cyanide technology, the mine produced 224,000 grams of gold and 1,680,000,000 grams of silver in a 66-year period ending in 1952. Nearly 160 kilometres of tunnel were excavated under Martha Hill and all the quartz was crushed, pulverised and treated with cyanide in extensive workings at nearby Waikino.

Heritage Recognition
The concrete cyanide tanks erected in 1895 still stand on Union Hill. This place has been recognised by Heritage New Zealand as a Category 1 historic place (List no.135):
Waihi Gold Mining Company Cyanide Tanks:
New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero information (www.heritage.org.nz).

The pumphouse on Martha Hill once housed steam engines and machinery which removed water from shafts almost 650 metres deep. This place has been recognised by Heritage New Zealand as a Category 1 historic place (List no.134):
Martha Mine No 5 Pumphouse: New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero information (www.heritage.org.nz).

IPENZ “Engineering to 1990” project
This item of New Zealand’s engineering heritage was recognised as part of the IPENZ “Engineering to 1990” project which the Institution organised to help celebrate the country’s sesquicentenary in 1990. A plaque was unveiled to mark the significance of this gold mine as part of the development of the nation.


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Martha Hill, Waihi

Thames Valley / Coromandel

Access Info
There is a display about the Martha Mine at the Waihi Visitors Centre. Group education tours of the mine can be arranged by contacting the owners, Newmount Waihi. (www.marthmine.co.nz)

Nature of Engineering
Manufacturing and Industrial Processing


Waihi Gold Mining Company's no 5 shaft at Waihi, 191?. Alexander Turnbull Library, Say, James Searle, fl 1981-1982: Photographs of the Waihi and Tauranga districts, Reference: 1/2-057515-F. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

(Click image to enlarge )

Lat: -37.3883 Long: 175.8381