In the early 1900's, Broken Hills was a thriving gold mining village. Today a series of interesting walks and hiking tracks criss-cross the area, encompassing old mining relics, tunnels, water races, tramline tracks, concrete foundations of stamper batteries and cyanide tanks. Linking Puketui Walk, Water Race Track, Main Range Track, The Lookout, and Collins Drive, creates an interesting 3 hour loop which can be walked in either direction.
With so many unusual points of interest along the way - three hours passed with surprising speed.
Enjoy expansive views over the gently flowing Tairua River, regenerating hillside forests, the impressive Pinnacles and Kauaeranga ranges and across the plains to the coastline of Tairua and Pauanui. It's a bit of a grunt up to the lookout at the top of the ridge, but the views are worth the effort.
The 500 metre long Collins Drive Tunnel, is one of the highlights of the walk - a fascinating section of the track allowing you to experience an authentic underground mine system.
Side tunnels have been boarded up but the main shaft is still intact. The roof of the tunnel is quite low, and in places where additional bracing has been added you have to duck a little. Torches are vital as there is no lighting, apart from clusters of glow worms gleaming back at you. A raised boardwalk through the tunnel keeps your feet dry.
The Water Race Track is narrow and in some sections steep banks tower above you. You can avoid most of the boggy bits by clambering along the edge, then dropping back down. The track is uneven with several short tunnels adding to the diversity of this route including one you access via a short wooden staircase.
Some sections of the track are not clearly marked, so take a map, or at the very least take a photo (on your cellphone) of the map on the large noticeboard at the start of the trail to help you navigate the trails.
In winter or after heavy rain, tramping boots are a good choice, at other times walking shoes are fine.
While not difficult, a reasonable level of fitness and agility is required, as the track to the lookout is all uphill, quite steep in places, with uneven surfaces and gnarly tree roots. And coming down a little scrambling was necessary, however random branches, bushes and tree roots provide handholds.
Broken Hills is 20 km south of Tairua, or 30kms north of Whangamata. Turn off SH25 at Hikuai into Morrison's Road, near the turnoff to Pauanui. Then follow Puketui Valley Road to the car park at the road end.
Shorter walks in the area include Golden Hills Battery Walk, Broken Hills Battery, Gem of the Boom and Government Battery.