Posted in Aotearoa New Zealand

Karangahake Gorge: An Easy Day Trip from Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau

We have made it a tradition to picnic on New Years Day and this year was no exception. Just where to go is always the topic of great discussion for several weeks leading up to the day…we wanted a picnic spot that the whole family would love and one that would provide a day’s activity so this time we decided on the Karangahake Gorge. It more than fitted the bill!

This scenic Gorge is located at the base of the Coromandel Range and is just 130kms from central Auckland. Depending on traffic this trip should take 1 hr 30 mins each way. The only traffic we struck was on the way home when we got to around Greenlane on the Southern Motorway.

Location: State Highway 2, Karangahake 3674

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The gorge has got to have one of the most scenic stretches of road in the north island and most of us have travelled along this route on our way to Waihi, Tauranga or Papamoa for a holiday but have not taken the time to stop and enjoy this beautiful location. We’re always intent on getting to our destination so a day trip seemed like the perfect way for us to take the time needed for a real visit.

The water is cool and fresh, great for river-swimming or paddling, and the riverbanks make a great spot for a picnic. Then after lunch it is time to enjoy the walks through the bush, through the historic tunnel and follow along the river.

Watch my 3 min video: walk through gorge


We decided to walk the rail tunnel loop which is accessed from the main carpark… however we went the reverse way ie from the end to the beginning. The railway tunnel is 1100m long and it is an interesting walk and if you decide to walk the reverse way you will come out of the tunnel to a lovely view of the river.

Be sure to take a torch for the kids so they can get close up views of the walls inside the tunnel… but it is easy enough to see your way in the dim light. The walls are damp and quite possibly harbour wetas, not sure but there are lots of drips and puddles to delight the kids.

Cyclists wizz past but are normally considerate and will ring out a warning bell in time for you to hop to the side. This track is part of the Hauraki Rail Trail (Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trails).

If you can get a lone walk through the tunnel it is quiet, eerie, damp and atmospheric.

Along the way you will see the Crown Battery site, which was constructed in 1892 and later enlarged, to accommodate 60 stampers for crushing quartz.


  • carparking
  • picnic areas
  • public toilets
  • open 24hrs


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