Waterfalls, ruins, and eerie mineshafts. Once a thriving mining town there are only ruins left at Puketui and Broken Hill. The mines have since been decomissioned and some mining tunnels closed off from the public, plenty are still viewable and many can be explored.
If you're from Auckland and you're wanting a hike that isn't too long but one that will definitely test your fitness, forget Kitekite falls, forget the walk around the Hunua waterfall, get your arse down to the Coromandel to visit Broken Hill and get those legs pumping and work on them booty gains.
Broken Hill has many walking tracks through old mining tunnels and sites, there are 7 tracks you can take ranging from 5 minutes to 3 hours, but that is more at a leisurely pace. The first walk we did which was either the Broken Hills Battery or the Government Battery took all of about 5 minutes and lead us to what remains of the battery, which was concrete slabs dug in the ground. From there we walked Gem of the Boom where we saw 2 man made caves, one of which being an old jail cell that someone had humorously stacked old cow or sheep bones in. This walk had an advised time of 20 minutes, but even at a slow pace it took us no more than 15 minutes to walk.
The Collins Drive loop is the walk that essentially killed my ankles and expanded my lung capacity. We completed this walk in just under an hour and a half after we read that it was a 2-3 hour return trip, we even took and accidental wrong turn down an old track and had to back track to get back to the top. This loop includes 3 mini tunnels you can walk through and the main Collins Drive 500m long tunnel, this tunnel is perfectly safe to walk through but pack a torch as you wont be going far relying on natural light. There are other tunnels leading off Collins Drive which have been boarded up for safety as these have either caved in or they are unstable, one boarded up tunnel is just a straight drop to the bottom however deep. Collins Drive is pretty wide compared to the other two tunnels you walk through though, there are some parts where you have to mind your head but other than that there isn't any squeezing through rocks to get to the end. During Collins Drive you can turn off your torch to view some hundreds of glow worms which is a pleasantry if you're trying to breath through a near claustrophobic induced panic attack.
Even if caves aren't your thing, the walk is a must if not for the views then for the beautiful swimming spots and mini triple waterfall. The sun also streams beautifully through the trees creating awesome sceneries for any pictures.
The waterfall pictured above can be found before you start the trek to the top, just as you get over the bridge there is a small track that leads to a small pond of fresh water, just follow that to the top and you will find a larger pool thats pretty decent to swim in with another waterfall flowing into it. The water is bloody freezing though as its fresh water and doesn't get much sun, but I advise greatly of this swim before starting the hike as you are going to get hot and sweaty.
I would definitely do it again, but I'll just get my fitness levels up a bit more before I do and work through my fear of tunnels. At the time I probably wasn't giving off much of a vibe of enjoyment during this trek as the walk partnered with running through tunnels and trying to surpress any sort of panic attack really took most of my energy out of me.
If you are wanting to make the most of exploring the mountain then you can camp at the DOC campsite just at the foot of the hill, its about $14 per adult and has the basic facilites of long drops and a river nearby where you can have a fresh water bath.
Please make an effort to read the information signs before beginning any walk, don't be an idiot and try to prove you're 'brave' by walking through unmarked tunnels. Ensure that you stick to the paths that are marked with orange markers, you don't really want to be finding yourself lost on Broken Hill for the night, or found that you have walked down an unstable mining cave, Take a torch and some warm clothing and good walking shoes, as you don't want to be stuck at the top of the hill when the clouds decide to piss down with rain and essentially leave you with a muddy slope to slide down.