Friday, October 22, 2010

Where a T-Rex might come around the corner at any moment: Karangahake Gorge

Way back when Dennis first came here to take a look at this acquisition opportunity, he figured he might only ever get here once and tried to see a few things before he got to work. He does heaps of traveling and has seen lots of strange out of the way places, but until just this past January he'd never had the chance to see the one country he's been dying to get to -- New Zealand. He scheduled an extra day into the trip, got off the plane and headed straight down into the winding little roads that wander this brilliant country. I got a call from him after a while as he was sitting in a parking lot somewhere. He swore that the landscape looked pre-historic, as if a T-Rex might come charging around the next corner and eat him right up.

Turns out that parking lot was at the Karangahake Gorge, halfway between Paeroa (home of L&P if you've been paying attention) and Waihi on Rt. 2.

Back in the 1800's someone discovered that them there hills contained a whole bunch of gold and things got real busy there for a while. You can still see the remains of the stamper batteries and various cyanide plants and other facilities.


There are a couple of signs that warn visitors to stay on the trails because of unmarked mine shafts hidden by vegetation and such, but no one actually works or patrols there and there are all sorts of tunnels that lead off the trail. Another example of a smaller country that leaves it up to its citizens to choose wisely and where, obviously, there aren't a lot of frivolous lawsuits.

We ventured into the one where you see Laurel and Dennis on the stairs because that one was actually marked as an underground pump station (something to that effect). It just said that a torch was recommended (flashlight), so in we went. It was completely and without question the blackest space I've ever been in with not one speck of light. The blurry photo above was just inside the entrance and a 4 second exposure, so it's a bit shaky, but I wanted to see how it looked in there.

The rails remained (specifically to trip klutzy Americans, I'm certain) and between each wooden tie were puddles of thick mud. We didn't get too far before we sent Dennis ahead to see what the story was. He came back a few minutes later with this report: "It just keeps going and branches off and the passageway gets smaller and smaller." NO THANKS!! We couldn't imagine that they let people go in there! There were no signs, nothing. And we could see on the map in another spot that the tunnel connected to others and went deep into the mountain. Crazy! I'm picturing all sorts of skeletons of the various people that never got out littering the passageways. The poor unprepared hikers whose torch batteries were a bit weak, oy...

Saw this lovely contraption in the very parking lot where Dennis called us in January. I was hoping it was a surprise for us, that we'd get to take it home, but alas, no hillbilly homemade trailer for us. So disappointing! Isn't that little porch a pip though? 

Laurel was not happy about the swinging seasick bridges. Can ya tell??

No T-Rexes got us, thank goodness. And so we had dinner at the L&P Café, and drove home to Auckland, where we live!! That still seems very weird to us. :o)

xoxo, K.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see that you all are still exploring and sending Dennis first! After the whole Chilean cave in, I'm surprised you were willing to go as far as you did! I don't think I would.

    We got back from San Francisco on Tues. night and much of the land north in West Marin County seems primitive in that it is unspoiled and not farmed or developed in any way. It did rain for 2 straight days (beginning of their rainy season--hadn't rained in 6 months!!) so things may have looked worse because of that. We did manage to go hiking in the rain in John Muir Woods and another place on an 8 mile hike! Why do I let Barry talk me into these things? It stopped raining on Monday and the sun came out and we sea kayaked for almost 4 hours, okay, Barry mostly did and I was along for the ride, not much paddling out of me :) I'm very glad no T-Rexes were sighted. We did see two seals kayaking and a coyote when driving around along with Tulle Elk (in a preserve), and lots of dairy cows and a mean looking bull. Okay, I'll clarify that sentence, the seals were NOT kayaking, we were. Good day to you all!