A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about gold

Letting Someone Else Take the Strain

Sunday 1st November 2015

semi-overcast 14 °C

We were awake pretty early this morning in order to watch the Rugby World Cup final. Given that we are now in New Zealand, and England have long since left the tournament, I was certainly hoping for an All Blacks win (sorry Australia). I thought that they were the better side in the first half, although perhaps a little slow to really get going. Once they did the match made great viewing. Australia seemed to rally a little in the second half but then the Kiwis ended in spectacular fashion and we and more than four million other people in New Zealand were very happy. After the match I dozed off for a while, but at 8 o'clock we decided that we really needed to get up and going if we were to check out of our accommodation by 10am. Once everything was loaded into the car we went and settled our bill and then we were soon driving the short distance south towards Greymouth.

Our bus wasn't leaving until after 1pm so we did have a bit if free time that morning. We did talk about stopping off somewhere but in the end went straight to the train station where we had to return the hire car and catch the bus. Once we were on board we settled back to enjoy the trip. The road hugged the coast for much of the journey and the driver pointed out places of interest and gave us some history on the way.

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We stopped for a break at Hokitika and the driver pulled up outside the National Kiwi Centre, a slightly strange and rather amateurish place that had some captive Kiwi birds in a darkened enclosure (presumably because they are nocturnal and therefore to reduce their stress and maximise the chances of seeing them). We had a quick look round and had just enough time to grab a cold drink before we were on our way again. The road continued near the coast before turning a short distance inland. We passed over a couple of rivers and we could see people with small traps trying to make the most of the last few days of the whitebait season. We then entered into the small town of Ross, which was established in the 1860's as part of the West Coast Gold Rush. At its height the town had about 2,500 residents but now there are less than 300 people living there. Our driver stopped and delivered newspapers to the shop here as well as in several other small towns and villages en-route, a good example of multi-tasking!

We also had a brief stop outside The Bushman's Centre in Pukekura (not a very enticing place name) to let one passenger off. This is a museum and cafe (with very mixed reviews) that has an extremely large model of a sandfly on the front gable end. I was quite relieved that this wasn't one of our scheduled comfort breaks.

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The weather then became very wet and miserable and the hills in the distance were shrouded in mist. We continued inland, past another couple of braided rivers before arriving at Franz Josef.

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Our driver very kindly dropped us off outside our accommodation which made things easy for us. We quickly checked in and settled into our very nice studio room. We had some time to relax and get our bearings before going up the street to a good local restaurant for a very filling dinner.

Posted by Gill's Travels 18:41 Archived in New Zealand Tagged rivers new_zealand gold Comments (0)

Not Everthing that is Gold Glistens!

Monday 5th October 2015

sunny 18 °C

It is time to move on again today; we are leaving Tairua and going to Tauranga, just under 80 miles further south. One of the things we had wanted to do whilst we were in Tairua was walk up Paku Hill from where we had been told there was a great view of the coast. We had another great, if slightly novel breakfast at our bed and breakfast and it was nice to be able to chat to our hosts for a while and to find out a little more about their lives. They told us how they used to live in Taupo where Colin was a farmer and engineer. They sold up and came to the Coromandel for their retirement, and Colin then built their lovely home with a view to running the B & B business. They are now only open for about 5 months during the summer. We were grateful that we got to stay there after our previously booked accommodation passed us on, having decided they wanted to go away themselves. Once we had settled up and checked out we drove the short distance to the hill.

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To make the climb easier we were able to drive about half way up to where there is a car park. The climb is quite steep in places, mostly with inclines and steps but near the top there was a few feet over rocks. We could tell the view was going to be great as we climbed up but it exceeded all our expectations once we got to the very top. It was still a little bit hazy but we had a stunning view of the harbour.

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A man offered to take our picture and I got talking to a lovely New Zealand woman who was there with her husband and children. It became a apparent that this was a place people returned to time and again if they had the opportunity. Once we had taken all the photographs we could find a reason to take, we started the climb back down the hill, with some children scampering down behind us. It really struck me that there is must be a time when one makes the transition from not worrying about falling over to it being a major preoccupation; is this a gradual process or does it happen at a certain age of maturity, I am not quite sure?

Once back at the car, we set our destination on the sat-nav and got on our way. It was lovely to see that a lot of the deciduous trees were coming into leaf; a real sign that Spring is here.

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Colin had also suggested that we stop and take a look at an open cast gold mine at a place called Waihi which was about half way to Tauranga. I had done a bit of research and found out that there was also a new museum dedicated to the mine and the men who worked there. We were able to find the museum quite easily as it was overlooked by a pump house based on the traditional ones found in Cornwall, although this one lacked the romance of English predecessors having been built out of concrete rather than Cornish stone.

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As the museum was celebrating its first year of opening we were able to get in at half price. It was very interactive and good fun. We were able to get involved in a mock drilling and blasting. There was also a great Lego model of a mine that made me think of my son Adam.

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I was staggered to find out that they mine 100,000 ounces of gold and 700,000 ounces of silver a year with a value of 3 million New Zealand dollars a week or over $150 million a year. I worked out that the gold is the equivalent to the weight of 1 small adult a week. Perhaps not surprisingly they won't tell you how they get it out of the town although I did find out that it goes out as a powder and is smelted in Perth, Australia. My theory is a small underground train, but Nigel just keeps laughing at my proposal. Interesting to ponder on!

After we had finished looking around the museum we then went to look at the mine which is massive

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They had a slip on the north wall earlier this year and it looks as though they have suspended mining for the time being whilst further investigations are taking place. Slightly strangely it would appear that the mine was bought a couple of months after the collapse, particularly given it only has a few more years licence left to mine. There was also a great view of the town from the pit rim.

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It had been a really interesting stop, one we were really glad we had made. The rest of the journey was uneventful and not particularly exciting. We were a little disappointed when we arrived at our Tauranga bed and breakfast, as despite its name Seascape it had no sea view. I also came to the conclusion that I dislike the lack of privacy and the sense of intrusion you get from staying in someone else home. The place had great reviews but didn't really do it for us. We promptly changed a couple of our future bookings going instead for hotels/ apartments. In the meantime we tried to make the most of where we were, and a bonus was that we had a lovely meal in a nearby restaurant that evening.

Posted by Gill's Travels 17:39 Archived in New Zealand Tagged new_zealand tauranga gold mine tairua waihi Comments (0)

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