Martha Mine

Learn about the evolution of gold and silver mining and go on a tour to get close to the huge open pit of this still active mine.

Martha Mine is an open-pit mine on the edge of Waihi, the town that sprung up around it. Walk around its rim, browse its visitor center and set out on a guided mine tour to get a true appreciation of the work involved in digging for precious metals.

When you arrive at Martha Mine, a tall and thin shell of a building called the Cornish Pumphouse stands out like a beacon. Read the signs that tell you how this eye-catching structure was originally built in 1904 to house a steam pump. The pump was built in New Zealand using a Cornish design. It could pump up to 1,850 gallons (7,000 liters) of water out of the bottom of the mine every minute.

Head over to the fence surrounding the mine and gaze down into the gaping pit. Stepped edges and a spiral roadway lead down to the bottom. While still in use, activity has slowed in recent years with a series of landslides delaying production.

See more of the mine by taking a left turn and following the path along its rim. Once you get to a big earthmover you will have reached another viewing platform. The track does continue farther for keen walkers; however, the best views can be seen from here.

From the Cornish Pumphouse, cross the road to the Gold Discovery Centre. Visit the interactive exhibitions to learn about the different methods and techniques used to extract gold and silver over the years. See how mining transport evolved from using horses through to steam and electricity.

Experience the mine from the inside by joining the Waihi Gold Mine Tour, which is operated by the Discovery Centre. Ride in a minibus around the mine as your guide explains the mining process from start to finish. Learn what is involved in extracting the small amounts of precious gold and silver from the large amounts of ore coming out of the pit.

The Martha Mine viewing area is permanently open and free to visit. The Gold Discovery Centre is open daily. Entrance and tour fees apply. The Waihi Gold Mine Tour operates daily. The Martha Mine is best reached by car and parking is free.