New Zealand's Heart of Gold
Martha Gold Mine
As you explore the town you’ll find evidence of our golden past at every turn. At the top of town are the towering figures of the relocated Cornish Pumphouse and replica Poppet head. Then, as you wander down Seddon Street (named after our famous Prime Minister)you’ll find bronze statues, restored historic buildings and interesting displays depicting our heritage.
Only metres from the centre of town, you can walk right to the edge of Waihi’s huge open pit gold mine. The Pit Rim Walkway leads from the town centre to viewing platforms, which offer stunning views of both the pit and the surrounding countryside.
The Mine has a history that spans three centuries. John McCombie and Robert Lee first discovered gold on Pukewa (Martha Hill) in 1878. Martha Mine quickly became one of the most important gold mines in the world. By 1952, when the mighty Martha Mine closed, 174,160kg of gold and 1,193,180kg of silver had been extracted.
The deepest vertical shaft plunged 600m from the surface. Radiating from the seven vertical shafts, a 175km long network of tunnels was opened on 15 horizontal levels. About 600 men usually worked the mine but in 1909, when gold production peaked, 1500 people worked between the mine and its stamper battery at Waikino.
Following the resurgence of the gold mining industry in New Zealand in the late 1970s the new Martha project was the first major hard rock mining operation to be commissioned. Opening in 1987, the open pit was extended in 1997 and an underground operation on the outskirts of town also began operation in 2006.
The company conducts regular tours of the site and runs curriculum-linked educational programmes.