Gold fossicking

Fossicking generally means searching for and collecting materials from the surface of the land, or by digging by hand. New Zealand gold fossicking is restricted to hand-held non-motorised methods only, such as gold panning, sluice boxing and the use of metal detectors. 

Alluvial gold (found in soil and sediments, usually around rivers and streams) is present within all the gold fossicking areas, although the concentrations are often low.

Getting started

Grab yourself a gold pan and a shovel, a sluice box or a metal detector and head down to your nearest fossicking area.

Seventeen areas in historic South Island gold mining regions have been set aside where you can freely enjoy recreational gold mining without the need for a permit.

Some of the areas are equipped with picnic, barbecue and camping facilities and have good public access. 

  • Nelson-Marlborough and the West Coast 
  • Central Otago
  • South Otago

You can view all of the areas on our interactive web map, simply select "Gold Fossicking Area" from the "Type" menu.

Fossicking areas

Try your luck at gold fossicking at one of these designated sites in historic South Island gold mining regions, set aside by New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals for families and others to freely enjoy recreation gold mining without the need for a permit.

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