Chook's Tracks

Waipahake Stream Marototo Valley

Rediscovered 1980 by Chook Sutton, Arthur Sutton & Pat O'hara.

This mine was situated in the upper reaches of the true lefthand branches of the Waipahake Stream.

Rights to the mine over an area of fifty acres was taken out in 1910 and work began on an Adit "Drive" by the waterfall which was where the reef crossed the stream.

There are also two short drives to the right and above this main adit. These drives are close to the large double barrelled Kauri tree.

The reef was driven on south east but the assays were poor; 0.246 grams to the ton and work ceased in 1911.

After the 1914 – 1918 war, a private party took up the rights to the area and called it the Volunteer Mine and started work in a small stream south west of the old working with much more success and assays of 44 grams to the ton. They back filled the old drive as they went.

They packed the ore out with five packhorses, I believe, each carrying around 1 cwt each to the McBrinns Creek crushing plant.

It was the only mine in the Marototo area which returned a profit to its owners.

Work ceased, I believe, following a dispute in the Hikutaia Hotel, which saw one of the partners ride up to the McBrinns plant and torch it.

A search of the area revealed one hut site which suggested that at least one female lived on the field. Rubbish over the bank below the cookhouse made it clear that they lived well for the times.

Footnote from A.M. Isdale B.A. Writings 1983:

"Referring to the Upper Waipahake, gold was found in this area back in 1853 – 54 by Baines and Hay who smuggled essential parts of a small battery in from the Whangamata side and only operated the plant when the wind was from the West, so they couldn't be heard at the sawmill near by, the trouble being that the Maori's hadn't at that time opened up the area to mining, which took place later in 1875.

"Some day someone may stumble on this one stamp battery outfit."

Plant on site 2003 – remains of one hand truck "skip", one "2" man handwinch and wheelbarrow, one wheelbarrow wheel in a tree, one bucket frame.

The track to the Volunteer Mine is picked up on the true righthand side of the Whakamoehau Stream behind the old Consolidated Silver Mining Companies administration building and follows the old mining tracks put in by Selby Managh of the then Matatoki Sawmilling Company in the late 1940's.

These tracks cease in the headwaters of one of the gullies in which the Volunteer Mine is situated. The rest is found by bush tracks down past the most beautiful Kauri trees, as this area was not in the Milling Permit, so is virgin bush.

The walk up takes two and a half hours with easy and medium grades with fine views of Marototo Rock, Waipahake and Wires Track areas.

3.9 km, 04:49:58