You no longer have to have a Prospector's Right in New Zealand (if you are old enough to remember it!) That requirement went out years ago! Just go to one of the 13 Public Fossicking Areas. We've got them all listed and mapped in our book, Gold For The Taking.

One ounce of gold
One ounce of gold

Now get your own gold! 

For the current gold price see our GOLD PRICE PAGE.

Some advice

Public Fossicking Areas are places created for the public to fossick and take gold, legally, because so much gold-bearing ground is legally claimed. Claim owners have had to jump through many environmental hoops to get where they are, and one told us that he will not hesitate to prosecute casual fossickers. The penalties extend to the confiscation of all equipment, including the vehicle used to travel to the area in question, court time and costs. Since Public Fossicking Areas are not in our experience the dregs, but productive areas in good country, intending fossickers would be well advised to stick to them.

Sandy Fairservice

A letter to the Department of Conservation, West Coast 11-02-10

I was at the Waimea Creek a couple of days ago and was chatting to a group of fossickers there who were having a good time finding gold. They were aware that this was a Public Fossicking Area.

One of the men said that he was there last winter, and saw some people with a portable pump sucking out gravel upstream of the camping area. He pointed out that this was not permitted by law, as only hand tools are allowed. He alleges that he drew the attention of your department, but that you were not interested. Would you care to comment?

I will be publishing my account on our website www.findgoldnz.com, and any response from you would be appreciated.

Sandy Fairservice

A further email to the Department on March 9, 2010 resulted in the following letter, which is reproduced in its entirety. We thank the Department for its commitment to enforcing the law.

Dear Sandy,

I apologise for the lack of a timely response from the Department. 

I'm also not sure what happened with the call to the Department last year, and our alleged lack of interest in a breach of the fossicking area rules.

I would like to reassure you that we are certainly very interested in and concerned about any abuse of the fossicking area rules and, if advised at the time, would do all we could do to deal with such an offence.

The fossicking area at Goldsborough includes parts of the Waimea and Shamrock Creeks, the latter being the creek beside the campsite.  I walked up the creek last spring to reassess the boundary of the fossicking area.  At that time, I did not see any sign of illegal activity although disappointingly there were a number of areas where fossickers had not returned the site to the condition they found it, (as required under the Gold Fossicking Care Code - http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/plan-and-prepare/care-codes/activity-minimal-impact-codes/gold-fossicking-care-code/).

A Crown Minerals mining permit area is being mined immediately downstream of the fossicking area and the confluence of Waimea and Shamrock Creeks, adjacent to Waimea Creek.  Strict conditions are in place to prevent contamination of the creek. 

We are keen to learn of any breaches of mining conditions or fossicking rules and would follow up ourselves or through the Regional Council as appropriate.  If you can encourage your readers to report any such issues immediately, we are better placed to take effective action.

Thank you for your interest and, again, please accept my apologies for the mix up here, which resulted in a lack of response to your first email.

Kind regards

Inger Perkins
Ranger - Community Relations, Department of Conservation, Sewell Street, Hokitika.  03 756 9148 VPN 5248

Have a look at this gold panning spot in Westland
Another place to go gold panning—the Blue Spur gold panning area near Hokitika, on New Zealand's West Coast (Westland). At left is a photo of a map by Trevor, a Greymouth friend. Click on the map for an enlargement.

Follow the bacteria!
Nature magazine (July, 2006) published a paper by an Australian geomicrobiologist Frank Reith, who says that some gold grains are grown by bacteria, which precipitate gold out of solution. Reith and his colleagues examined gold grains from two sites in Australia and found they were covered by a film of bacteria. One DNA sequence, probably Ralstonia metallidurans, was found in an experiment to precipitate gold out of a solution. The soils where the gold grains were found lie over gold-bearing rocks. Reith said even large nuggets could be the result of accumulation. The discovery raised the possibility, he said, of bacteria being used to process gold. He said that a biosensor could lead the explorer to gold.

West Coast Gold (photo, right)
A nice bit of fossicking by our friend David who spent some time on the West Coast. He finds the Waimea Creek dependable too. David has read all the editions of our book and now has the DVD.

A new public fossicking area has been created
The Ministry of Economic development has announced that a new public fossicking area was gazetted on January 12, 2005, situated at Gabriel's Gully in Otago. The area is 4300 square metres, and is found in the Gabriels Gully stream bed and marginal strip. This brings the total to 13 public fossicking areas, all in the South Island. A detailed map of the area can be viewed during normal business hours at the Ministry of Economic Development, 33 Bowen Street, Wellington, or at the Lawrence Information Centre, 17 Ross Place, Lawrence. A spatial map of the area can be seen here, and a topographical map here. Twelve of the 13 public fossicking areas are listed, with maps, in our book, "Gold For The Taking."

A southland man, Henry Geerlings, found a 8.87-ounce (275 gram) nugget in Otago's Arrow River in January. He was snorkelling in the river and swishing the sand around and saw a "bright yellow flash." He cried out with joy and prized the rare find out of a hole where it had been wedged. The nugget was authenticated by Mr Jim Rose, owner of the Arrowtown Gold Shop. At today's price (January 29) it would be worth about $NZ8,000, but Mr Geerlings said he would be putting the word out on eBay to see what sort of interest was out there. He estimated that it could reach $NZ30,000-$NZ40,000. The nugget appeared to have shovel marks on it, Mr Geerling said, probably from his own prospecting last year. He spent about three or four days at a time in the river. His biggest find before this nugget was a 2-ounce piece. The largest gold nugget ever discovered in New Zealand was the "Honourable Roddy", which weighed 99 ounces (3.7 kg). It was found at Ross on the West Coast.

Brian Powell of Renwick, Marlborough, and his friend Gerald Prouting take turns showing local children his on-farm museum and how to pan for gold in the Wairau River. At Bartlett's Creek, up the north bank of the Wairau River where the family farm is located, Brian finds that youngsters of the area jump at the chance of learning to pan. A gold-bearing reef runs through Bartlett's Valley, the Marlborough Sounds and the Wakamarina Valley, off the Pelorus River. Brian says it is a seam of quartz, blue schist and gold, but the gold is found only here and there, not along the whole length of the seam. Gold from the Wakamarina River is fine, but at nearby Fabian Valley it is rough, often in little round nuggets "like a pea or grains of wheat."--From Gold Diggers by Tony Orman, published by the Marlborough Express, November 19, 2005.

The Louis Creek Mining Society has opened its claim to public fossicking by pan or sluice box only. A picnic spot with toilets is also available. The Louis Creek drains, with the Maude and Maggie Creeks, into the Howard Valley in the Buller region of New Zealand's South Island. The society has 40 members, all keen hobby fossickers. Other productive creeks in the area are New Creek, Sheep Creek and Thompson's Creek. The Howard Field, of which all these creeks are part, was put on the map by explorer Charles Heaphy (who has a track named after him) and by the 1915 rush and subsequent sluicing by miners of the 1930s depression. Hobby fossickers are still satisfied by the gold flakes they find, especially if they come out of unworked glacial moraine.

"After spending four days panning in Slab Hut and Lyell creeks before getting flooded out, and in the process losing my sluice box (left on the other side of the riverbank to use in the morning, and it was [then] too dangerous to cross the river)—it must be easier to watch a video. Please find enclosed $30 for the Gold For The Taking video." —Graham of Palmerston North, 11 December, 2001.

South Island fossickers who want to sell their gold could try Diamond Traders in Christchurch. Gerald Westenra will evaluate your gold and pay on the spot with "competitive prices". His buying fee is dependent on quantity. Have a look at his website www.diamondtraders.co.nz


New equipment
So we thought that all gold pans were circular? Not all, as we discovered when Ray, a reader of our book, showed us a catalogue from an American company that stocks gold gear—from the most ephemeral to the big stuff. As their catalogue says, "We have everything but the mule!" So why don't you mosey on down to The Lifestyle Store and see what ingenious items they offer. We have catalogue #400.


Some fossickers' refinements
Peter Thom has sent us a selection of photos, showing how he and his mates ingeniously win gold from the Otago region. He says he has even more devices, "but they are just either for fun, or we are trying them out to see if they work. What I love about this hobby is that it's all for fun and I'm not here for money, but to find some colour." Peter's brother in law, Jeremy Hills, a fitter and turner, makes the gear. Just click on the thumbnails below  for a larger image. Then press your browser's Back button to return to this page.

Photo No. 1 Two of the three friends in a river, looking for a spot to set up their sluice boxes.
Photo No. 2 Three sluice boxes with wide fronts for working in slower-flowing creeks.
Photo No. 3. A closer view of Peter's box. It has "false grass" that captures the gold. Carpet would work just as well as "false grass," Peter says.
Photo No. 4. The "wonder shovel" for lifting pay dirt from flowing water. It is made from hardened steel and is good for digging in deep, flowing water.
Photo No. 5. The gold from one shovelful from the "wonder shovel" in the gold pan.
Photo No. 6. A normal, side-walled shovel for using in the current.
Photo No. 7. "The Sucker", a manual pump for lifting gold from crevices and places where the shovel can't reach. Its body is made from PVC downpipe. "You pump the handle up and down and inside the body the pay dirt collects (about one big pan per 20-30 pumps)." It is similar to the Australian yabbie pump.

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1 Two friends 2 Three boxes 3 One box 4 Wonder shovel
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Send us your photos by email. Our address. . .
5 Gold 6 Normal shovel  7 The Sucker

Using a metal detector (below)

Some gold found with a metal detector in Nelson Province, New Zealand. The dark nugget top left was found in Australia. Now get your own gold!