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Gold Fossicking


What is 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.

How do I get 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.

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

Nelson-Marlborough and the West Coast

There are twelve areas in the Nelson-Marlborough and the West Coast regions which are administered by the Department of Conservation.

Fossicking area
Size (ha)

Aorere River A

15 km southwest of Collingwood


Picnic, swimming

Pdf Icon [103 kB PDF]

Aorere River B

30 km southwest of Collingwood

41.5 Picnic, swimming Pdf Icon [101 kB PDF]

Lyell Creek

35 km west of Murchison


Picnic, camping

Pdf Icon [388 kB PDF]

New Creek

5 km northwest of Rotoroa



Pdf Icon [658 kB PDF]

Louis Creek

4 km west of Howard


Interpretation panel

Pdf Icon [658 kB PDF]

Moonlight Creek

27 km north-northeast of Greymouth



Pdf Icon [84 kB PDF]

Nelson Creek

26 km east-northeast of Greymouth


Picnic, camping

Pdf Icon [74  kB PDF] 

Jones Creek

0.5 km southwest of Ross


Picnic, camping, walkway, visitor centre

Pdf Icon [448 kB PDF] 

Waiho River

Franz Josef National Park



Pdf Icon [594 kB PDF]

Shamrock Creek

14 km northeast of Hokitika


Picnic, camping, shelter, fireplaces

Pdf Icon [99 kB PDF]

Slab Hut Creek

7 km southwest of Reefton


Picnic, camping, fireplaces, walking tracks

Pdf Icon [91 kB PDF]

Stony and Britannia Streams

17 km northeast of Westport


Picnic, camping

Pdf Icon [748 kB PDF]


Central Otago

There are four areas in the Central Otago region which are administered by the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Fossicking area
Size (ha)

Twelve Mile Creek

10 km west of Queenstown


Picnic, historic gold workings, camping

Pdf Icon [74 kB PDF]

Five Mile Creek

5 km west of Queenstown


Swimming, walking

Pdf Icon [80 kB PDF]

Arrow River




Pdf Icon [580 kB PDF]

Shotover River

2.5 km from Frankton


Wildlife reserve

Pdf Icon [616 kB PDF]


South Otago

There is one area in the South Otago region which is administered by the Clutha District Council.

Fossicking area

Gabriels Gully

3.9 km from Lawrence

Pdf Icon [647 kB PDF]


Further information

Location maps can also be obtained from the Department of Conservation or the relevant District Council office.



To view or print PDF files on this page you will require PDF viewing software: Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Last updated 26 March 2013

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