Martha Mine

Martha Mine Education Centre

Useful Information

Location: Waihi.
(-37.386250, 175.842799)
Open: Mine Tours: For groups after appointment.
Pit Rim Walkway: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: MineGold Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: Martha Mine Open Cast: L=1,100 m, W=620 m, VR=200 m.
Guided tours: V=12,000/a [2019]
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Martha Mine Education Centre, Moresby Avenue, Waihi 3610, Tel: +64-7-863-9880.
Martha Mine, Martha Street, Waihi 3610, Tel: +64-800-924-444.
Education Officer. E-mail:
Waihi Visitor Centre, Seddon Street, Waihi, Tel: +64-7-863-9015. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1878 gold discovered by the prospectors John McCombie and Robert Lee.
1879 William Nicholl pegged out five acres, named the claim Martha after a family member.
1882 first battery in operation.
1912 violent miners' strike.
1952 Martha Mine closed.
1987 new open pit mine started.
1997 open pit extended.
2006 underground operation on the outskirts of the town started.
2006 1904 pumphouse moved at a cost of $4 million to save it from collapse.
2007 new underground information centre in Seddon St planned.
2008 start of construction of new information centre.
2010 planned completion of new information centre.


The andesite rocks of the area were formed by volcanism about 20 to 5Ma ago. About 7Ma cracks created by tectonic forces were filled with quartz and other minerals by geothermal activities. The predominant minerals were quartz (SiO2) and calcite (CaCO3). Gold and silver is found in these dykes in form of electrum, an Au-Ag alloy, native gold (Au) and acanthite (Ag2S).

The epithermal gold-silver orebody at Waihi is giant by world standards. The largest vein is called Martha Lode and is at least 1.6 km long, 600m deep, and up to 30 m wide. The underground mine followed the larger veins, which were mined extensively but not completely. Todays open cast mine extracts numerous smaller veins which remained untouched. In 1999 930,000 t of ore were extracted, with an average of 3 gr of gold and 30 gr of silver per tonne. Mining operation is very successful because of the high amount of mined ore, and the cheap mining.


The Martha Mine Education Centre, also OceanaGold Education Centre, is a classroom available for use by educational and special interest groups. It is located at the southwestern rim of the Martha Mine open cast and the starting point of mine tours offered by the mine operator. The Education Officer provides a curriculum-linked programme for school classes of all ages. Guided mine tours are conducted for school groups as well as for the general public. Behind the museum is one of the huge trucks which is used to haul the ore out of the pit. At the rim is the Waihi Goldmine Lookout, one of three, which allow a good view into the open cast. They are connected by the Pit Rim Walkway with interpretation boards, which explain points of interest. The circuit is easy walking, pushchair friendly and takes approximately one hour to complete.

There are two different mines at this location, both called Martha Mine. The first was founded by William Nicholl in 1879 and named Martha after a family member. It was an underground mine which was worked until 1952 and produced 174,160 kg of gold and 1,193,180 kg of silver during its operation. To see this mine, or at least some models and replicas, you have to go to the MineWaihi Arts Centre and Museum. There are the remains of the Cornish Pump House and a replica of the famous Waihi Poppet Head. And of course the mine is noticed now and then when parts collapse and destroy buildings above. Even the pumphouse had to be moved to ensure its safety.

The second mine with the same name was started right on top of the old mine. It is a huge open pit mine opened in 1987. The New Martha Mine was created under changed attitudes and values concerning environmental topics. They were granted a Mining Licence for 30 years and an open pit of 200 meters depth. At the turn of the 21st century the depth was almost reached and the company studied the possibility of mining deeper. The Resource Management Act, introduced in 1991, imposed strict conditions for environmental monitoring and reporting, air quality, noise, flora and fauna, social and economic environment.