Gold fossicking and pounamu

Areas are available for gold panning and fossicking in New Zealand.

Panning for gold

Gold mining normally requires a permit from NZP&M, however 17 areas in historic South Island gold mining regions have been set aside – in Nelson-Marlborough, the West Coast and South and Central Otago - where you can freely enjoy recreational gold mining without the need for a permit.

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.

Location maps can be obtained from the Department of Conservation or the relevant district council office.

Pounamu fossicking

There are restrictions around the fossicking of pounamu.

The Ngai Tahu (Pounamu Vesting) Act 1997 stipulates that Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu (Ngāi Tahu) owns all pounamu existing in its natural condition within the takiwā of Ngāi Tahu Whānui. Therefore since the Act came into force in 1997, any miners awarded permits granted under the Crown Minerals Act do not have rights to pounamu.

Removal of pounamu without Ngāi Tahu's agreement is unlawful.

All permit holders in pounamu management areas are encouraged to engage with Ngāi Tahu, declare finds and reach agreement on how incidental discoveries of pounamu will be dealt with. New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals notifies affected permit holders of their obligations around pounamu and provides them with the contacts for the relevant papatipu runanga.

For more information visit the Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu website.

To find out about fossicking for pounamu in other parts of New Zealand, please contact NZP&M.

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