Looking for gold in gold fossicking areas

There are specific gold fossicking areas in the South Island where you don’t need to have a permit to fossick or pan for gold. There are no fossicking areas in the North Island. If you want to fossick or pan for gold elsewhere, you will need a gold mining permit.

What gold fossicking is

Gold fossicking is the activity of collecting gold by a stream or river using metal detectors, pans, shovels, picks and sluice boxes. In gold fossicking areas, anyone is free to look for gold as long as you use non-motorised machinery and hand tools.

You can fossick for gold in specific areas in the South Island only

There are 19 areas in the South Island that have been set aside for gold fossicking and gold panning in Nelson-Marlborough, the West Coast and South and Central Otago. These areas are open for recreational gold fossicking without the need for a permit.

Alluvial gold, which is found in soil and sediments around rivers and streams, is present in all gold fossicking areas but usually in low concentrations.

There are no public fossicking areas in the North Island and no plans to open any because the North Island does not have any large historical alluvial goldfields.

The 19 gold fossicking areas

Information about the gold fossicking areas can be found in the table below.

Fossicking area Permit number Operator

Tasman area

Louis Creek (GFA 12) [PDF 845KB]


New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals

Lower Louis Creek [PDF 270KB]


Tasman District Council

Aorere River A (GFA 13) [PDF 199KB]


New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals

Aorere River B (GFA 14) [PDF 199KB] 42014 New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals
New Creek (GFA 15) [PDF 205KB] 42015 New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals

West Coast region

Jones Creek (GFA 4) [PDF 194KB]


New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals

Jones Creek (GFA 5) [PDF 194KB]


New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals

Lyell Creek (GFA 6) [PDF 204KB]


New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals

Britannia Stream (GFA 7) [PDF 338KB]


New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals

Nelson Creek (GFA 10) [PDF 936KB]


New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals

Waiho River (GFA 11) [PDF 216KB]


New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals

Slab Hut Creek (GFA 30) [PDF 2.1MB]


New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals

Moonlight Creek [PDF 456KB] 42031 Department of Conservation
Shamrock Creek [PDF 717KB] 53804 New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals


Twelve Mile Creek (GFA 20) [PDF 487KB]


New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals

Five Mile Creek (GFA 21) [PDF 474KB]


New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals

Arrow River (GFA 22) [PDF 542KB]


New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals

Shotover River (GFA 23) [PDF 527KB]


New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals

Gabriels Gully (GFA 33) [PDF 1.1MB]


New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals

Looking for gold outside the gold fossicking areas

You cannot fossick or pan for gold in any other area outside of the specific gold fossicking areas.

If you want to look for gold in any area outside of these specific fossicking areas you will need to apply for a mining permit – this includes on your own land as gold is owned by the Crown.

Before applying for a permit, you need to check whether the area you wish to apply for is available for permitting. You can see this information on our Permit Webmaps. If the area is already covered by a permit or an application it’s probably not available. If the area you are interested in is available for permitting, you will need to submit an application.

Permit Webmaps

A mining permit application costs $5,750 to apply for and there are fees payable each year to continue to hold the permit.

Further information

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