Gold discovery stories

The video wasn't long enough!
I got the video yesterday and sat down to watch it right away. I must say for a learner it would be very good as years ago I had to teach myself by reading your first book, and seeing it on video would have made it so much easier. I felt it wasn't long enough as there just are not many videos out there about gold and I was really getting into you guys out working the claim and the video finished. I would love to see a video just on people digging and finding gold like the last segment of your video. We
do things a wee bit different down here and have made many new tools and gadgets to make finding gold easier for the Dunedin area. If you would like some photos of some of our inventions I would be more than happy to send you some photos via email. (Thanks, Peter. We would love to see your photos, and the best might end up on this page!—Sandy)

An appreciative reader got motivated . . .
Hi there,
I am just writing to say thank you for your book - Gold for the Taking!  It was an interesting read and certainly got my partner and I motivated to have a go at finding some gold for ourselves.

We had our first go in Winding Creek near Waikaia in Southland.  After a few digs and pan fills we found our first flakes of gold—it was very exciting to actually find some. We also put some paydirt through our riffle box that we made and got some gold from that too. We went home with big smiles on our faces three hours later with our little bottle of gold with maybe 30 or so quite small flakes.

We are definitely going back for more in our spare time and will make a day of it—fun and a great recreational outdoor activity which can provide a bonus also.

Thanks & Cheers
Waikaka, Southland, 21/1/03

The Golden Gumboots
Jim Gibbons of Motueka tells of a 'find' he and Andrew Leslie made some years ago. They were up in the back country, watching some young guys working their family gold claim. As Jim and Andy wandered about, they walked through some dirty water on a small patch of ground where the digger had been working. They walked about six paces back to their car, jumped in and drove off with their gumboots dripping on the floor. After a minute or two, Jim, who was driving, happened to glance over at Andy's gumboots on the car mat. "Why don't you pick up that gold on the floor, Andy?" he said. "Aw, you don't get me with that one. I don't believe you." Andy didn't look down. "Well, look at my boots, then," said Jim. Both of them had bits of gold stuck to the clay on the bottom of their gumboots. Nice pieces, too! They picked them up, turned around, and hurried back to the patch of dirty water, retracing their steps as they went. No more gold was found, but the golden gumboots story lightens many a gold-digging yarn.

And a meteorite!
Jim Kriegh, a retired University of Arizona civil engineering professor, wasn't even looking for meteorites when he made his big find. While hunting for gold in remote northwestern Arizona in 1995, Kriegh stumbled across a strewn field, the scattered fragments of a huge rock that dropped out of its orbit between Jupiter and Mars and exploded over the desert.—Reported by CNN.

Milking shed find
An Edendale, Southland, New Zealand dairy farmer received a pleasant surprise one day as he completed milking his herd. When he hosed down the concrete yard at his milking shed, as he does twice a day, he found flakes of gold on the concrete. The herd had brought gravel from the path to the milking shed on their hooves this rainy day. The farmer had just resurfaced the path with gravel excavated on the farm.

In his book Footprints J.N.W. Newport tells of finds in the Baton River near Motueka in the Nelson province

Finding the big one |
‘The Baton gold was in small nuggets, some of which were hollow or contained sand . . . one nugget which weighed 18 pennyweights [18 grams] is still in use as a brooch. The largest nugget found weighed 36 ounces  [1.119 kg] and came to light when McClean and Scaife were opening up a drive into the bank at the side of the Baton River. Tom Scaife was wheeling out a laden barrow and saw something shining in the load of earth. It was said that it (the 36 ounce nugget) was the only gold they got out of that particular venture. Scaife called at a house after he had been pig hunting and casually pulled the nugget out of his pocket—just as if it was an everyday occurrence! No doubt returns were patchy but some good strikes were made. John Taylor and Tom Driscoll once dug eight ounces in a morning.’

Arthur Needham, the ‘new chum’ on the Baton field. |
‘There is one success story connected with the Baton gold field. Arthur F. Needham, well known in the Motueka Valley and Tadmor districts, first went to the Baton, but when he arrived he found that most of the known gold-bearing ground was already occupied so he enquired from one of the diggers if he knew where he could find a suitable place to dig. The digger pointed to a large rock in the river and said, ‘You dig under that and you will get gold.’ Being a new chum he did what he was told. He set to work and made a breastwork of stones to divert the current and proceeded to work the gravel from below the rock where he found good gold. When he had worked as far as possible he cut saplings and laid them in the stream with their ends thrust as far as possible under the rock. He then asked other diggers to help him lever the rock on to the sapling and skidded it out of the way. A large quantity of gold was awaiting him. He had the laugh after all as he had £600 and went off to buy a farm.

The gold cow
‘Mr Justin McCarthy tells the story “of his parents wanting to buy a cow, they had no money so went to a spot near the mouth of the Ellis stream and dug for gold. In half a day they had won gold worth more than £7, enough to buy a cow.’

Bar room gold
As on other goldfields the hotelkeepers and storekeepers bought gold. At the Baton Hotel it was weighed on the bar and it was said that a certain amount of fine gold was lost down the cracks in the counter and on the floor. It was also asserted, though it seems rather a tall story, that years later dirt from under the old bar was washed and several hundred pounds worth of gold recovered.’

Why leave home—it’s all here !
Bill Taylor, of Nelson, went to the Klondike in Alaska where he spent 40 years digging and trapping, then returned to New Zealand. He went to the old diggings at the Howard (Valley) and there unearthed a nugget weighing 8 ounces.

Some history
H.P. Washbourn in his book Reminiscences of Early Days has recorded that traces of gold were found near Ngatimoti (near Motueka) as far back as 1855, and in the Aorere Valley (near Collingwood) by Ned James and John Ellis in October 1856. In December 1856 George Lightband worked this discovery and the Fell brothers auctioned  ‘The giddy amount of 7 ounces and they got £4 per ounce for some of it.’ In 1857 the rush set in and such fascinating names as Appo’s Gully and Bedstead Gully heralded the first real gold mining anywhere in New Zealand. 40,000 ounces of gold had been won in Nelson before Gabriel Read came upon gold in Otago.

Between the years 1857 and 1907 the annual export of gold from New Zealand in totalled 18,218,678 ounces, worth £71,528,978. The average yearly export was around 300,000 ounces. The peak production year was in 1866 when 735,376 ounces were exported. These figures are excerpted from a report by McLaren & J. Malcolm entitled,  Gold’, published in the Mining Journal, Government Printer, 1908.