Kaimai Ranges

The Kaimai Range is a mountain range in the North Island of New Zealand. It can be seen as a continuation southwards of the hills of the Coromandel Peninsula, and separates the Waikato in the west from the Bay of Plenty in the east. The range is rough, and only two roads pass over it: State Highway 2, across the northern end of the range through the notoriously winding Karangahake Gorge, and State Highway 29 from Tauranga to Hamilton.

Longest tunnel in New Zealand

The Kaimai Railway Tunnel runs for nearly nine kilometres under the ranges, making it the longest tunnel in New Zealand. Construction of the tunnel started from both sides of the range in 1969: the headings met in 1976 and the tunnel opened on 12 September 1978. The Kaimai Range and this tunnel led to a Silver Fern railcar service between Auckland and Tauranga being named the Kaimai Express. This service operated from 1991 until 2001.

Worst air disaster in mainland New Zealand

Just after 9am on July 3 1963 the DC-3 Skyliner ZK-AYZ Hastings operating New Zealand National Airways Corporation Flight 441 from Whenuapai Airport, Auckland to Tauranga crashed into the ranges. All 23 aboard died, making it the worst air disaster in mainland New Zealand.


The Kaimai Range is the result of a fault that uplifted primarily andesitic rocks from long-extinct volcanoes. This fault has not been active for about 140,000 years and started more than a million years ago.


The New Zealand Post Office engineering division (radio) built and maintained a microwave communications facility near the top of Kaimai range, close to the Hamilton-Tauranga highway saddle. In the 1960s it was a Lenkurt relay as part of the national network, linking Sanitorium Hill near Cambridge to Rotorua, with a spur to Tauranga. It now has cell phone and various other radio communications facilities, and is owned and operated by Telecom New Zealand. Land Parcel: Part Section 126 Block II Tapapa SD

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