At 952 metres Mount Te Aroha is the highest point in the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park. A number of tracks lead up and around this distinctive landmark and the abandoned mines and mine trails nearby. Te Aroha is a significant cultural and historic area, with historic Waiorongomai just a short distance away. Longer trips into the Forest Park can be accessed from here via the North South Track and the Waipapa Track.
Far back in time Mount Te Aroha gained its name in Maori legend. One story tells how the Arawa chief, Kahumatamomoe was on his way home from visiting a kinsman at Kaipara. As was the habit of this explorer, he ascended to the highest possible point along the way. As he stood on top of the mountain, he decided to name it "Aroha ki tai". This was an expression of his love for his father, who was buried on Mount Moehau and his family who lived at Maketu. There are other legends relating to the naming of the mountain. Te Aroha township was developed during the 1880s as a spa town and there are 22 springs in the area, 15 of which are hot. The domain at Te Aroha still retains the look of Edwardian times and visitors can experience stepping back in time. Many of the old bathhouse buildings remain and the formal gardens have only been altered slightly.
The Tui Mine area, on the northern slops of the mountain, was mined to provide lead flux for the Waiorongomai smelters. However, the ore contained too much zinc to be of use. In the 1960s the area was extensively mined but the venture failed due to mercury contamination of the ore. The most significant result of this period is the presence of the large tailings heap on the site. The tailings amount to approximately 100,000 tonnes. The combination of high heavy metal concentration, porous tailings and acidic leachate has created an inhospitable environment where plants have been unable to establish. Traces of gold were discovered on Mount Te Aroha in 1880. Prospectors burnt much of the native vegetation looking for a gold bearing reef, which was never found. Their attention turned to Waiorongomai when Buck Reef was discovered. The mining remains at Waiorongomai are a short drive from Te Aroha and are well worth a look.
Te Aroha is located 50km northeast of Hamilton, on SH 26. Walking tracks are accessed from the domain on Whitaker Street.
Mountain High River Wide Tours take scenic tours up Mt Te Aroha by bus.
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The Piako County Tramway in the Waiorongomai Valley at Te Aroha is New Zealand's oldest bush tramway with the rail still in place. Modern interpretation and restored sections of rail complete the experience making this a must-see attraction.
A variety of shorter walks and mountain bike trails around Te Aroha Domain are provided by Matamata-Piako District Council. DOC tracks in the area are not constructed to mountain bike standard and cycling is discouraged. Please respect other park users.
Always check the weather forecast and be prepared for sudden changes in weather, particularly on the mountain summit.
Plan & Prepare
Walkers should be prepared for sudden changes of weather as alpine conditions can be encountered on the mountain. The summit walk is suitable for fit, experience people who are adequately equipped. Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.