Anti-mining group Ours not Mines is fighting Hauraki District Council on a permit it's given to mining company OceanaGold.
It would let the company build mining infrastructure on what's called a paper road - a road drawn on a map but that doesn't physically exist - that runs through Department of Conservation (DoC) land.
Wharekirauponga, in Waikato, is home to waterfalls, swimming holes, and one of the world's oldest frogs.
Bush blankets the hills between Waikato's plains and the lower Coromandel. And it's estimated there's $1.8 billion worth of gold underneath it.
"It's land set aside for the public to enjoy and it's land set aside to protect our flora and fauna - and it shouldn't be messed around with," said local resident Suzanne Clegg.
OceanaGold, the company proposing to mine here, said it knows the land is sensitive, which is why it's tunnelling underground from Waihi to the proposed site at Wharekirauponga.
But it needs to build four five-metre high air vents on the surface, which it plans to do on a paper road - a legal road that the company's own lawyers say is "indistinguishable from the surrounding bush".
It's got a permit from Hauraki District Council to do so - which is why mining group Ours Not Mines has taken the council to court.
"That entire forest park that they want to mine under is owned by DoC, and they've got for this tiny paper road for their license, which seems strange at best," said Ours not Mines spokesperson Morgan Donoghue.
Donoghue said the council isn't benefiting either.
"It'll be a dollar-a-year license over 40 years, so the council will make nothing out of this."
Hauraki District Council declined an interview with Newshub saying it's going through the court process, and it would be inappropriate to comment while that's underway.
"The last thing I want to see is four big mining vents and all the infrastructure there... it's just out of place there," Clegg said.
In a statement OceanaGold said its application to the council was made in accordance with the proper application of relevant laws. And, it said, it's committed to mining responsibly.
Donoghue's dad was a longtime campaigner against mining in the Coromandel before he died last year.
"The last thing I read to him was our letter to the council and to OceanaGold to say we thought they were acting illegally. So I am going to follow this through and do what we can," Donoghue said.
The case continues on Tuesday.