Find out about recreational gold fossicking (including gold panning) in New Zealand.

Gold fossicking is the activity of collecting gold by a stream or river using pans, shovels, and sluice boxes.

You can do this in designated public gold fossicking areas. There is a low concentration of alluvial gold (found in soil usually around rivers and streams) within all the gold fossicking areas.

On this page:

Designated public areas where you can fossick for gold

New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals (NZPAM) has set aside designated gold fossicking areas under the Crown Minerals Act 1991. At these public sites, you can freely enjoy recreational gold mining without a permit. They include sites administered by DOC.

Use the NZPAM maps to see exactly where these designated areas are. Search for an area using the permit number from the following table.

Designated public gold fossicking areas *
Gold fossicking area Permit number Location Operator
Aorere River A (GFA 13) 42013 Nelson/Tasman – Kahurangi National Park NZPAM
Aorere River B (GFA 14) 42014 Nelson/Tasman – Kahurangi National Park NZPAM
New Creek (GFA 15) 42015 Nelson/Tasman – Glenhope Scenic Reserve NZPAM
Louis Creek (GFA 12) 42012 Nelson/Tasman – Glenhope Scenic Reserve NZPAM
Lower Louis Creek 55529 Nelson/Tasman – Glenhope Scenic Reserve Tasman District Council
Jones Creek (GFA 4) 42004 West Coast – Ross area NZPAM
Jones Creek (GFA 5) 42005 West Coast – Ross area NZPAM
Lyell Creek (GFA 6) 42006 West Coast – Lyell area NZPAM
Britannia Stream (GFA 7) 42007 West Coast – Denniston area NZPAM
Nelson Creek (GFA 10) 42010 West Coast – Greymouth area NZPAM
Waiho River (GFA 11) 42011 West Coast – Westland Tai Poutini National Park NZPAM
Slab Hut Creek (GFA 30) 42030 West Coast – Victoria Forest Park NZPAM
Moonlight Creek 42031 West Coast – Southern Paparoa range DOC
Shamrock Creek 53804 West Coast – Goldsborough (Waimea) - Kumara area NZPAM
Twelve Mile Creek (GFA 20) 42020 Otago – Queenstown area NZPAM
Five Mile Creek (GFA 21) 42021 Otago – Queenstown area NZPAM
Arrow River (GFA 22) 42022 Otago – Queenstown area NZPAM
Shotover River (GFA 23) 42023 Otago – Queenstown area NZPAM
Gabriels Gully (GFA 33) 42033 Otago – Gabriels Gully Historic Reserve NZPAM

* Permit data from the NZPAM website

You need a permit for other areas

If you want to fossick for gold outside of the designated gold fossicking areas, you'll need permission from NZPAM. Contact

If this area is on public conservation land, you might also need a permit from DOC. See a map of public conservation land.

Rules on gold fossicking

  • Only fossick for gold in the allowed area – use the detailed NZPAM maps.
  • Only use non-motorised hand tools. This may include:
    • pick
    • shovel
    • pan
    • metal detector
    • riffle/sluice box – there may be size restrictions in some areas.
  • Stay within the active creek bed.
  • Never use explosives.
  • Restore the ground as you found it.
  • Do not disturb any animals, vegetation, historic site, or place of cultural significance.
  • Know the statutory regulations.

Know before you go

  • If you need to cross private land, you have to get permission from the landowner first.
  • Only drive on formed roads or tracks open to the public.
  • Be aware of sudden river rises from heavy rain or hydro dam controls.
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