Manawatu fossiking

Hi all, new to the forum.
So I was always under the impression there was no gold in the lower north island.
For shits and giggles lets just say I did a few test pans and found something, what would be the process if I wanted to go there and run some dirt through a slice?
I’m aware there’s no public fossiking areas in the North Island, in my area at least.
Is it a case of don’t get caught or do I need to spend a bunch of $$ on permits just for a bit of weekend fun?


In theory you need to get a claim, but I’ve had a wander up many a stream / river and spotted sluice boxes hidden away in the bush so it seems a lot of people don’t go that route.

I’d be surprised if you’d get in trouble for just having a wee scratch around. And with NZP&M’s huge proposed hike in fees it doesn’t make much provision for hobbyists.


There actually is gold in the lower north island, or was.

Wellington in the Karori, Makara, and Terawhiti hills gold was mined, albeit in sub-economic quantities.

There was some efforts made to prospect for gold around the Tokomaru area and if I happen to come across anything again I will be sure to post it up here, there are papers past articles on this hardy soul who sunk trenches, drove into terraces, but was roundly treated at the time to be a mad man attempting to mine gold where there simply was none, time has proven this to be not far from the truth.

The Ruahine, Tararua and Rimutaka Ranges does get a mention in ‘New Zealander gold fossickers handbook’ -Tony Nolan 1983

It goes on to mention,

Isolated specks of gold can be found in many creeks and rivers flowing through the Young North Island greywacke ranges. This is not unexpected, as there is no doubt fine gold sparsely sprinkled throughout such sedimentary rocks and the argillite and “red rocks” included in them. Finding alluvial specks is hard work, however, unless you strike exactly the right kind of “gold trap” in a creek. Here and there are also thin, “hungry” stringers of quartz or other white minerals which, when crushed and panned, sometimes yield a tiny speck or two.
On the eastern side of the Ruahines a few traces of gold were said to be found with the small copper deposits at Maharahara. Gold was reported to exist in the Tokomaru area of the northern Tararuas, although the magistrate once said of a disputed gold mine there; “It is only a hole in the ground, and not a very big one at that!” Still on the western side, digging for sparse alluvial gold proceeded for a time inland from Waikanae.
On the eastern side of the Tararua Range, specks have been found inland from Woodville and Greytown, and in the 1880’s a “gold-bearing stone” was picked up from the Waiohine River near Matarawa. In the early 1900’s, Tom Donnelly worked and died on his claim at Donnelly’s Flat at the foot of Mount Holdsworth; his ditch can still be seen, and the Mangatarere stream can still yield specks to the energetic fossicker. Other sites known to have been dug to some extent are the Waipoua and Te Mara Streams and Mitre Flats on the Waingawa River.
In 1881 an excellect specimen of gold-quartz was taken from a Tararua site by a party of prospectors. The site, which was in a steep, gorgy feeder at the head of the Makaka Creek (which flows to the Waiohine from the ridge north of Mount Cone), was later inspected by the Government Geologist. The outcrop proved to be a high wall of sandstone and quartz but nothing like the original rich specimen was found in it. So far as I know it has not been located since.
On the eastern side of the Rimutaka Range, Brandon’s Reef on Dry River was prospected in 1879. The reefs could be traced for a considerable distance but a payable quantity of gold was never found in them. One or two specks have been won on the western side of the range, but anything more substantial is hard to find.

1886 prospectors claim to have found gold in Waikanae

‘Gold in the Tararuas’ prospectors association formed 1911


And if you can only afford a permit for a small area, expect others to lay down permits all around you.
They’ll think that you’re on to a good thing. Another factor is keeping your permit area safe from poachers with helicopters and such.

Wish NZPAM was a bit more leanient towards people having a bit of a scratch around. Though hopefully they aren’t going to waste court time and government money on someone doing a bit of panning.

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Cheers for that guys, have run test pans in lower Manawatu river, mid Rangitikei river and in a few small creeks in the Ruahines on doc land, have come up with very fine specs at all areas from natural gold trap areas, haven’t tried Tokomaru yet but will have a look in the coming weeks.
Is there any river sluice I can buy that’ll catch such fine gold?
Any information about the lower north appreciated as I’m quite keen to see what’s about

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I delivered on that promise, here is a hilarious article written in the classic ‘The Truth’ style.

As for a sluice to buy, I would instead build get an engineering friend or engineer shop at a last push to fold a tray up out of 3mm aluminum sheet on a press break bender, 10 to 12" wide and as long as you feel you could carry (or have it segmented or folding), leave around the 1st 1/3rd as a ‘slick plate’ with no riffles, and the rest in either ‘miracle mat’ style rubber or astroturf/carpet/miners moss (you can get miners moss from bunnings, they sell it as waterproof shower mat) with relatively fine raised expanded metal mesh clamped down over it. The idea of running an area slick is to get the material you feed the sluice to stratify before it hits the riffles (in this case expanded metal), this should boost retention of fine gold but it is a waste of space and dead weight to carry in when you are targeting larger gold. If you spend more than $100 you are doing things wrong and the likelihood of paying it off in the Manawatu is near non-existent. (aim to spend half that, if anything at all)

Classifying the material you sluice is an absolute must if you want to boost fine gold retention, the finer you can classify the better, however it is a compromise between the time it takes to classify finer versus the ability to actually run greater material through the sluice by not classifying as fine, I would suggest starting off by classifying to around 2-mesh / 4-mesh at a minimum, there are classifiers you can buy that work with a 20L bucket but they do the same job as drilling holes into a bucket 1/2" / 12mm for 2-mesh, 1/4" / 6.5mm for 4-mesh. Have a google around and see what others come up with.

The whole idea behind sluicing is that it is quicker than panning, enabling you to get more done in an hour, what ever you do focus on making the whole operation time efficient.

EDIT; So looking through to find a picture of what I think would make the best fine gold sluice, I ended up finding simple plans to build what is extremely similar to what I have just mentioned and is claimed to be from many sources as a very efficient fine gold catcher, The Pop and Son Sluice

And some more info on sluice design here.


Thanks for that, I was looking at a Bazooka and for all the great reviews I’ve noted they’re not known for catching fine or flour gold.

A word of caution, there was an article in the ODT recently regarding several parties being caught sluicing in Otago rivers without a permit. :rage: Some were hobbyist. :cry: Have a read of latest write up attached.

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