This series of caches has been placed with cyclists in mind. There is no need to leave the trail or climb over any fences to retrieve any of the HRT series.
The railway reached Paeroa from Hamilton in 1893. As the population of Waihi was then twice that of Hamilton there was great demand for the continuation of the line to Waihi. Government was reluctant, but the line, including a three quarters of a mile tunnel, was eventually opened in 1905. The difference in height above sea level between the two towns was 300 feet over 13 miles, quite a steady gradient.
Paeroa was less than half the size of Waihi in 1912, yet six passenger and freight trips per day were run between the two towns. K Class locomotives were originally used, then the heavier J Class, and eventually the line was extended to Tauranga.
Whilst at Paeroa the engine was uncoupled and re-attached at the rear end of the train, so the passengers had a reverse ride for the rest of the journey unless they flipped over their second class seats. An extra engine was kept in Paeroa for the heavier trains which coupled to the rear of the train to push it uphill through the tunnel. Once through, it would shuttle back to Paeroa to wait for the next train.
Passengers had to close all windows and doors before entering the tunnel to keep the smoke out, and to prevent asphyxiation should the train stop.
It was a regular occurrence for scrub fires to erupt anywhere along the line between Rotokohu and Waikino, with sometimes up to 500 acres set alight. When diesel loco's replaced steam these fires ceased and the gorse and scrub country has since regenerated with native trees.
In the early days trains served the Waihi goldfields and later Tauranga, then Whakatane and the pulp mill development at Kawerau.. Livestock was carried in special wagons; calves from the Bay of Plenty were railed through the night to the freezing works at Hamilton and Otahuhu. Later newsprint and paper products returned along the same route.
Prior to the railway being constructed from Paeroa to Waihi, everything from heavy mining machinery, up to 30 tons a piece, more than 100 tons of coal a day, passengers and the residents supplies, were hauled to Waihi by teams of up to 20 horses, along a narrow winding road through the gorge which was blasted through solid rock. The road was only wide enough for one wagon in many places so there must have been frequent waits at the wider sections along the track.
In 1958 a diesel railcar service was started from Auckland to Tauranga via Paeroa and Waihi which lasted until around 1968.
The diesel freight trains became larger and longer and the maintenance, and potential maintenance, of the line became too expensive and difficult, so a more direct route was found via the Kaimai tunnel from Hamilton to the port of Tauranga. Finally, in 1983, Most of the Paeroa to Waihi line was pulled up.
The Hauraki Rail Trail is the easiest riding Trail in New Zealand, with various stages allowing for comfortable 3 day Rail Trail cycle rides. The trail is in close proximity to Hamilton, Auckland and Tauranga and is accessible from Thames, Paeroa, Te Aroha, Waihi and Waikino. The temperate climate on the Coromandel Peninsula and the Hauraki Plains provides a great all-year round riding experience.
The 82km trail is the easiest cycle trail in New Zealand to ride with the longest tunnel 1.1Km and showcases some of the best scenery New Zealand has to offer, from the Pohutukawa trees on the Thames Coast, through lush green Waikato farm lands, to areas rich in pioneering history. A major highlight includes riding through the stunning Karangahake Gorge, one of the “14 wonders of New Zealand”. The trail follows the path of two historic railway lines, running from Thames to Paeroa and Waikino to Te Aroha. The Goldfields Railway is still using the Waikino to Waihi section of the track so from Waikino to Waihi the rail trail closely follows the line of the historic ‘Rake Line’ that was used to transport ore from Waihi to be processed at Victoria Battery.
The Hauraki Rail Trail is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs but barriers preventing motorcycle access to the trail limit access in some sections for wheelchairs and recumbent bikes. The majority of the trail is 2.5metres wide and runs through farmland; it is fenced on both sides and bridges are 1.5m wide.
Thank you to The Hauraki Rail Trail Trust for giving their permission to lay this series of caches.