Martha Mine

Useful Information

Location: Waihi
Open: For groups after appointment [2007]
Classification: MineGold Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:  
Address: Martha Mine, Tel: +64-7-863-9880, Fax: +64-7-863-6084. E-mail: contact
The Education Officer, Guy Spurr, Martha Mine Education Centre, Newmont Waihi Gold, PO Box 190, Waihi, Tel: +64-7-863-9774, Fax: +64-7-863-6084. E-mail: contact
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 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 930,000t of ore were extracted, with an average of 3gr of gold and 30gr of silver per tonne. Mining operation is very successful because of the high amount of mined ore, and the cheap mining.


There are two different mine 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 174,160kg of gold and 1,193,180kg of silver during its operation. To see this mine, or at least some models and replicas, you have to go to the MineWaihi Gold Mining Museum and Art Gallery. 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 a 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.

The mining company conducts regular tours of the open cast mine. There are educational programmes for schools linked with the New Zealand curriculum.

The latest plan is a public private partnership to creat a sort of mining theme park called Waihi Gold Discovery Centre located on the rim of the Martha Mine at the top of Waihi's main street. New Zealand Mint and the Vision Waihi Trust are investing $20 million to create this tourist attraction. The idea is to draw tourists to town to fill the gap when the mine will close in a few years. The underground centre will be a combination of Visitor Center for Waihi and the nearby Karangahake Gorge, a gold mining museum and a interactive display of mining technology. The center is now in the planning stage [2007] and will be built from 2008. There are plans to open the 4,000m² center in summer 2009 or 2010. Both dates are tough and we will see.