John La Roche
In 1897 the Victoria Battery, alongside the Ohinemuri River at Waikino, was erected by the Waihi Gold Mining Company to process ore from its Martha Mine in Waihi.
The facility initially had 100 stampers to crush the ore, powered using Pelton wheels. In 1902 a further 100 stampers were added with a steam engine to drive them. This became the largest stamper installation in New Zealand and had an 8 kilometre railway between it and Waihi.
The cyanide process of extracting gold from crushed ore was successfully tested at one of the nearby Karangahake Gorge mines and this process was also used at the Victoria Battery. The battery’s cyanide tanks were constructed in the early 20th century.
In 1912 the need for increased power supply led the company to build the first hydro-electric power station on the Waikato River, at Horahora, as well as with a 50,000 volt overhead line.
The Victoria Battery continued operating until 1952, closing at the same time as the Martha underground mine.
This place has been recognised by Heritage New Zealand as historic places (List nos. 4602, 4604 and 4678):
Battery Foundations: New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero information.
Power House: New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero information.
Victoria Battery Cyanide Tank Holders: New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero information.
Pukekauri Road, Waikino, Waikato.
The ruins of the battery are managed by the Department of Conservation and are part of their Historic Walkway to Waikino.
There is a carpark opposite the Waikino Railway Station on Seddon Street, just off of State Highway 2. From here you can follow a walkway to the ruins.
Additional image gallery details
Waikino battery, Waikato, ca 1912. Ref: 1/2-019291-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
Waikino battery, Waikato, 1910-1920. Photographer unknown: Gold mining in the Waihi district. Ref: 1/4-015341-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of these images.