If I were starting out the first 3 things to buy would be simply:
A pan, a shovel, a pick.
The equipment you’ll need after that depends on your goals and preferences. Some guys are happy to pan or shovel gravel into a sluice box all day, others (including me) can’t stand it. I prefer to walk and explore. So metal detecting is more my cup of tea.
From that point, you can buy other equipment to go in any number of directions. Sluice boxes, wetsuits, masks and snorkels, detectors, dredges… and the list goes on!
If you want to buy a metal detector, I would recommend the Minelab Equinox 800 or the Minelab Gold Monster 1000. Both are capable nugget hunting machines. There are a few key differences though.
If you’re interested in coin or treasure hunting, the Equinox does an excellent job of that too. The Equinox has more functions and settings, while the Gold Monster is designed as a specialist gold detector. The GM is made to be more simple to use, a real ‘Turn on and Go’ machine.
The Nox control box is waterproof, submersible. The GM control box is not. Could be something to consider if you’re going to be detecting in active streambeds. Or on the west coast
If you get the Equinox 800, you’ll also want to buy the 6" accessory coil. The stock coil on the Nox is an 11" round, and can be a bit large and clunky for nugget detecting.
The Gold Monster comes with two coils, including a solid elliptical coil which is a perfect size and shape for nugget hunting in NZ streams.
The best place in NZ to buy gold equipment is from Dan at dredgenz.co.nz
His customer service is excellent, and he’s an experienced prospector so will be able to answer your questions.
Hopefully this helps a little