Te Aroha is a rural town in the Waikato region of New Zealand with a population of 3,906 people in the 2013 census, an increase of 138 people since 2006. It is 53 km northeast of Hamilton and 50 km south of Thames. It sits at the foot of 952-metre Mount Te Aroha, the highest point in the Kaimai Range.
The name Te Aroha comes from the Māori name of Mount Te Aroha. In one version, Rāhiri, the eponymous ancestor of Ngāti Rāhiri Tumutumu, climbed the mountain and saw his homeland in the distance and felt a sense of love (aroha) for it. The name is often rendered in English as “place of love”.
On 17 February 1985 Te Aroha experienced a severe flash flood that washed boulders, mud, and trees through the town. Most shops and more than 50 homes were damaged, resulting in the death of three people.
The Waihou River runs through Te Aroha. Close by to the east is the base of the Kaimai Range, and the town is overlooked by the 952-metre Mount Te Aroha. To the north of the town is the low-lying, swampy land of the Hauraki Plains. Thermal and mineral springs are both found close to the centre of the town, as is the world’s only hot soda water geyser.
Te Aroha is at the centre of a dairy farming community and much of its economic activity is in serving that community. Tourism is increasing in Te Aroha. The mineral baths are a very popular spot for tourists and locals alike.
Historically mining played a role in the area, and has left some legacies – not all of them positive, such as toxic residues leaking from the abandoned Tui mine tailings dam. Miners cottages are in evidence.
Te Aroha is the location of the Mokena Hou Geyser, the only Natural Soda water geyser in the world. The geyser is located in the Te Aroha Domain, the oldest intact Edwardian domain in New Zealand.
Waiorongomai Valley Tramping Tracks
The History of gold mining in the area has left many pack tracks and tramlines which can now be walked. Choose 1-2hour or combine for a fun,challenging day
Waiorongomai walks start from the car park at the end of Waiorongomai Loop Road near Te Aroha. About the area:
The history of gold mining in the area has left many pack tracks and tramlines which can now be walked, including the historic Piako County Tramway. Information panels describe and illustrate the events of the past. Longer overnight walks can be accessed from here via the Mangakino Pack Track and Waipapa Track.
Low Level Loop
2 hours round trip, 5.5km
This well graded track takes in several significant sites around the lower Waiorongomai goldfields. From the car park go up the stairs to the left of the concrete ruins and then follow the signposted Low Level Loop to the right. The track winds up the valley through regenerating bush across a few small streams and passes a small tunnel and a pipeline.
After about an hour the Loop turns back south at the signposted junction and joins the Piako County Tramway at the base of Butlers Incline, with the rail still in place giving a sense of how the tramway worked. The walk then descends along the tramway to the top of the Fern Spur Incline giving views to the south. It is a short walk down the hill from here to the car park.
Butlers Incline to Premier Creek
Beginning at the bottom of Butlers Incline, this track leads up the valley and connects with the Mangakino Pack Track and the Waipapa Track for longer overnight walks along the Kaimai Heritage Trail. From the Low Level Loop turn up the steep Butler’s Incline. Follow the Piako County Tramway, passing a junction with the High Level Track after 40 metres. This section is a level grade with rail lines along most of the length.
The track then crosses Diamond Creek before reaching an intersection, and then follows the historic Low Level Track up the May Queen Incline. The track continues along the tramway and passes another junction and a short but dark tunnel. The tramway finishes at Premier Creek. Add 1 hour 30 minutes to reach Premier Creek. Return the same way or take the Mangakino Pack Track north to the Waiorongomai Saddle. New Era Branch Track
This is an alternative way to approach the head of the valley, avoiding Butlers Incline. Take the New Era Branch Track to the right at the signposted junction with the Low Level Loop, just before reaching Butlers Incline. There are two stream crossings which can be difficult after rain. This track meets up with the Piako County Tramway just below the May Queen Incline. Add 1 hour to reach the May Queen Incline. Return the same way or via Butlers Incline.
Kauri Grove route
This challenging route features regenerating kauri forest and access to the site of the old Bendigo Battery. Take the turn off from the Low Level Loop after 45 minutes (the junction is on the corner by the tunnel). Just before the battery site the route crosses the Waiorongomai Stream and climbs very steeply to a junction with the old Pylon Line route.
After this the track descends to the north through a grove of kauri tree rickers then undulates with small stream crossings before meeting up with the New Era Branch Track. Add 3 hours to walk the Kauri Grove Route. High Level Pack Track
2 hours 30 minutes one way, 4.3km
This track climbs steadily up the valley and leads towards the Waiorongomai Saddle. Take the steps behind the concrete ruins and follow the signs for the High Level Track. Continue straight on at the junctions with the Low Level Loop and the Buck Rock Track, reached after about 30 minutes. The path crosses a number of streams before ascending to a bridge across Butlers Incline.
The following junction gives access to a number of other tracks. The High Level Track branches to the left and continues upwards, passing several mine portals and waterfalls. It levels out just before the old mining camp known as Quartzville, then descends to the historic Low Level Track, just above the May Queen Incline. Return the same way or return via the Low Level Track heading south. Overnight walks are accessible by continuing north to the Waiorongomai Saddle.
Posted by Colin Middleton 22 Jan 2018