The Waihi Battery saved its tailings in three tailings ponds. The tailings were easily washed away, so cut-off drains were created to the west of the ponds to intercept surface run-off and direct it away from the ponds. Cut-off drains are not directly mentioned in the literature, but suggested in photographs and maps of the time.

A continuous drain ran from the top pond to Clarke Street. Mill Stream Walkway follows this drain from the south of the bamboo to the boxed steps. The drain behind Charlie’s seat, which aligns with the present stream down stream from the upper walkway bridge, through the gorge and on to Clarke Street, was the lower part of the cut-off drain.

The drain behind Charlie’s seat was also used to accept the by-wash water which flowed down from the end of Baker Street.

When Mill Stream was re-instated after the battery closed, it was run into the cut-off drain just below the upper walkway bridge.

The walkway passes beside a very obvious section of the drain in the middle tailings pond, near the Cascades turn off. Between the walkway and the stream is a further ditch, now well hidden by vegetation.

Also the walkway makes its way along side the drain in the upper tailings pond. This most clearly suggests a cut-off drain, to keep surface water from entering the tailings pond.

Water that might have entered the ponds from the battery site was presumably controlled on site, and perhaps diverted to the mill tailrace.

cutoff drain1 cutoff drain2
North of the boxed steps. Cut-off drain on right, tailings pond further to right. 2008. A little north of the Baker Street turn-off. Cut-off drain to left, tailings pond to right. 2008.

  mill str map cutoff

Mill Stream Walkway Heritage Features.

Map showing walkway, present stream alignment, cut-off drain ditches, Speak’s Quarry, old tailings ponds and the Waihi Battery site. Alignment of cut-off drain is shown on mouse over.