Public Fossicking Area Collaroration (Waiho River)

Please feel free to contribute to this tread,any information you would like to share on the public fossicking area (Waiho River)Franz Josef National Park… Information may include-vehicle access and parking,track locations,hazards,camping facilities,toilets,accommodation,access and/or local info contact numbers,boundary locations,how bad the sand flies are and last but not least any general locations for finding a little gold.(Or a lot who knows!)


Dont forget to upload any good photos or Youtube links too!!

The more of us who contribute the better so don’t be shy.

This could be an excellent resource for us Paydirt gold seekers!!


Tried this area once,ended up raining cats and dogs,river flash flood!!
Camping at Franz Josef,beautiful area!!
Anyone prospected this area?

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I brought a small pan, hand digger, and “snuffer” bottle with me on holiday. After crossing the one lane bridge from Franz Josef, I turned left on the glacier road, and drove up as far as I could in the gravel just left of the bike trail. I did four test pans along the river bank, and found black sand but no color. The sand flies let their presence be known as soon as I sat down with the first pan, so they are an issue. If I had my largest pan, and perhaps my sluice, I might had found something. But just like at home in my local river, sometimes its hit or miss.

Thanks for checking this one out for us TJ,looks like it confirms our suspicions of lots of gravels and not very much sign of gold,guess you never know until you try so big up’s mate:yum:

best sandfly repellant is brown dettol and olive oil in a 50:50 mix. shake before use and keep out of your eyes. My cobbers used to buy the commercial products and have given up and rely on me to bring this brew which works a treat…



We where in the franz josef area and we thought we would try out the Waiho river site.

Its a huge river that feeds straight down from the glaciers, the problem is its impossible to get to the 30M deep bedrock in the river within the sites bounds, we spent about 2 hours prospecting up and down the river with only a few bits of placer gold found, we finslly found a spot next to the parking area on the inside bend with a lot of big rocks and nice looking materials around it, we did a test pan and got a big flake whe then spent about 1 hour digging and sluicing and did 4 buckets, it was really easy digging as we just cleaned off the first 30CM or so of ground as that was where we found all the flood gold (,as when that river floods it floods hsrd) after the cleanout we actually didnt do that badly, and there was a very chunky 0.04 gram picker, we ended up with only 0.1 of a gram which is not that bad for 1 hour mining. Overall an alright spot and worth checking out if your in the area but not worth a trip just to go there as gold is still not great, just a reasonable amount.


have you or are you going to the public site at ross. i have been there a couple times but never really had a lot of success but know of others who have done ok.

Yep already have, we were about to give some info on the collabaration and we shot some footage, but in the 6 hours we spent prospecting and sluicing we got very little, 2 flakes bigger then micro fine and a dozen or so micro fine pieces so at that point we realized there may be a little bit in ceartain spots but we would just be wasting our time going all out there compared to some of the richer public areas like slab hut and nelson creek.

Sorry for the very late reply we completly forgot we shot this footage this is a video of us gold prospecting there and gives you the gst of the area :slight_smile:


Just a tip for the incident you had with your sluice box tipping over, put a biggish flat rock across it to hold it in place. :+1: Like this :+1:

I think you will find that by far the ‘best’ gold comes down the Callery river & the main old gold workings that are left are now over grown with bush & are on the up river side of the junction of the Waiho & Callery.

The bigger bits is some gold I found in a deep crack in a rock heading up the Callery & some of the fines are from Jones Creek in Ross. I did a bit of sluice boxing on Jones Creek on the way up the West Coast & I only had the one gold bottle so put the finds from both place in it. The crack in the rock up the Callery I just used a crevice tool I had & raked the crack out as deep as my tool would allow me & panned out the material. There will be more gold in that crack I couldn’t get to. I haven’t been back to that spot. I didn’t lug the sluice box up as I was just testing the place out. Apart from that crack in the rock the rest was pretty dismal.

Good effort on the video.

Good luck out there

JW :cowboy_hat_face:


The main source was from the Callery gorge running alone the north bank above franz the locals told me the river bottom has dropped massively over the past 20 years due to flooding however this has all been reworked extensively buy heavy machinery due to flood control the stop banks have burred anything workable on the north banks aka inside bend the massive bluffs on the north side are likely possible areas worth a look but the cavit is if anything comes down your a gonna

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A bit more about the Callery Gorge. Eons ago when I was into a bit of mountaineering and living in Greymouth. Member of the West Coast Alpine Club. I read a mountaineering based book which was centered around the Franz Joseph area. Low and behold in it was a bit about the gold in the Waiho River and Callery Gorge. The mention re the Waiho was unremarkabke. Just that it contained gold, had several claims on it, and the gold was described as fine in nature. The Callery got far more attention. I recall that it mentioned the Fraser Glacier as the ultimate source. The gorge itself is for the most part contained within sheer sided cliffs, typical glacier carved country. About mid section or slightly higher was an area known as little beach. A couple of intrepid mountaineers who must have had a bit of prospectors blood flowing in their veins and having heard of the early riches of the Callery Gorge, mounted an expedition. They abseiled down the sheer sided cliffs, which was the only way to get there, and their abseiling equipment in those days would have been very basic indeed. On landing on the beach, to their dismay they found that they were not the first. Discovering old iron mining equipment, probably old rusted picks and shovels. Guess the early miners had just abandoned their weapons instead of trying to lug them back up the sheer sided cliff on the ropes. Anyway the latter day prospectors managed to gain several ounces of chunky nuggety gold, before leaving. I put that one away in my head, “As a Bridge to far”. Just one of the many eh Gavin lol.

Cheers Trev aka “The Hatter” and spinner of the odd untrue tale. Esp on April the 1st eh folks. But this one is definitely true.


Hey kiwi gold your very correct I have been told that
the old timers punched a track up one side of the gorge in the bush line and at one point there was a basic swing bridge put across the gorge to reach little Beach there was a geological study done in the 1990 ish they where flown in by helicopter to the headwaters and conducted sampling they concluded that the main source was not from the headwaters as they only found limited quantities of very fine gold they concluded the main source must be being shed in the upper gorge itself above little beach somewhere from exposed quartz vains .


Interesting as l had intended going there many years ago after two mountain climbing friends told me about the gold in the Callery.
They were going to construct a gyrocopter to access in there but it never got completed.
Both are still alive so l must ask them more about it. One was a teacher at Fox at one stage before the 1970s.


The Callery gets a mention (and a sample photo) on the UoO Dept of Geology site…


Hi Trev, I have read some very good stuff on the early day miners into there. I cant for the life of me recall where or what the source of that was now. The best time, for low water, was of course winter time. But also so cold & miserable. Hardy old buggers. Of course they wouldn’t have been old in their time.

Like Pilbara said, they punched a track, that I think was on the north bank.

@ Graeme, I don’t think a gyro-copter would cut it as unlike a helicopter that can take off & land vertically, a gyro needs a bit of a run up to launch. Can land by dropping out of the sky but not in taking off. I too dreamed of a gyro-copter to get into placers. I have vivid memories of that dude in Mad Max zooming around in his gyro-copter. :heart_eyes:

JW :cowboy_hat_face:

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I dont know about the gyro copters performance but one of the guys was a teacher AND commercial airline pilot and both were mountaineers who knew the country well. They also knew well of the gold and had plans to use this gyrocopter to got here.

One of them said that they had flown the gyrocopter but the other later told me that it had not actually got built and he knew that for sure as the rotor was still in his shed!

I wish I could remember what I had been told about up there. I do know that mention had been made of quite heavy nuggets. I must ask my cobber as hes still around. He was best man at my matching up ceremony and I see him when I am up home so must call and have a chat to him about up there as he will know far better than anyone else about the area as it was his stamping ground in years past.


Well no gyrocopter would go into there and so I assume the two fellows I knew who were both climbers knew what they were doing and I guess climbing featured in the equation.

My son is an climbing instructor and now you all have me thinking!

It’s nasty in there lammerlaw 0 degree water and in the -0 windchill you have to respect the old timers its a ancient monster you feel like your in the bowls of an ancient monster just waiting to destroy you

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