Saturday, January 2, 2010


The output from the Karangahake Gorge Gold Mines produced 60% of New Zealand's total gold production in 1909.  The area must have been buzzing.  Noisy and polluted.  Noisy as the Crown, Talisman, Woodstock and Victoria batteries pounded the quartz ore extracted from over 12000 meters of tunnels in the hillsides.  Polluted as they used cyanide to extract the gold from the ore as a more efficient technique to heating the ore prior to pounding.  This heating process apparently caused huge deforestation in the area.

Today the area is tranquil.  It seems very clean and green; clear waters with cormorants fishing in the river and only tourists and visitors to disturb the peace.

We'd decided to leave Auckland reasonably early, do the Windows Walk and the Karangahake Tunnel Walk before midday when we thought it'd be quite warm.  The Windows Walk follows a tramway into the hillside that is crossed periodically with cross-cut tunnels.  It is these crossing tunnels that make the windows that look out over the gorge.

These views can be quite spectacular.  Hard to imagine these tunnels were once alive with the clatter of horses pulling wagons full of quartz ore and miners drilling through the rock of the hillside as they searched for gold.  I wondered whether the workmen ever had time to admire the views as we do now.  I suspect not.  From the picture to the left you can see another pathway cut into the hillside.  I understand this track also was used to transport ore to the batteries.  Sadly this track was closed when we visited, so we had to return the way we came ... back through the Windows Walk.

On returning to the Karangahake Reserve we followed the river upstream towards Waihi to meet the old railway.  The tunnel is just over a kilometre long, is illuminated, but you'd be advised to take a torch.  The image alongside is from this walkway and shows some of the strange clouds ... almost like an inverted vapour trail.

I was using my 18-200mm lens, but just couldn't get all the scene I wanted at the widest setting and those clouds were quite special.  I took nine shots and used Hugin to stitch them together.  You can see the image here.  Unfortunately, the clouds are pretty blown out, but I didn't really know what to do.  Suggestions are more than welcome!  I scanned the image, set my exposure for the river and trees and then shot the scene on manual.  I thought I'd get a better stitch if I had a consistent exposure throughout my nine images.  However, as the sun was so bright it did mean that some of the clouds were blown away.

No comments:

Post a Comment