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
Skyliner ZK-AYZ Hastings operating New Zealand National Airways Corporation Flight 441
from Whenuapai Airport
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
highway saddle. In the 1960s it was a Lenkurt
relay as part of the national network, linking Sanitorium Hill
, 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