Summer is definitely here in NZ and the Karangahake Gorge trail run gives some fun options to escape the sun. Karangahake Gorge in the Bay of Plenty is for most, a narrow state highway route through the Kaimai Ranges , but there are many pleasant surprises for those prepared to beat the feet up the streams and tributaries that feed the main river in the gorge.
The cliffs rising beside the rivers and streams reveal many clues to the rich gold mining history that shaped the area over 100 years ago. One of the more interesting characteristics is the mining tunnels used to shift the gold laden rocks to massive stampers, since dismantled, on the river banks.
Today, from a trail running view, what remains is lovely flowing fast benched trails beside the cool streams and fantastic tunnel systems. The tunnels leading deep into the mountain have since been blocked off, and the remaining tunnels provide great access through the gorges beside the rivers.
The tunnels are easy to navigate but the railway sleepers have since bee removed leaving uneven surfaces and trickling water, and made more adventurous by the need for a head torch.
My running buddy Matt and I had a great time exploring the network and then spent 45 minutes of steady hill climbing ascended Mt Karangahake with expansive views of the area.
I recommend parking at Dalys Flat, a Department of Conservation ( DOC) campground beside a stream where we cooled off with a quick dip before a sumptuous brunch at the Long Table Cafe ( highly recommended if you are heading south!). 21 k of trail running with great variety, what a great morning out and about.