Questions from a newbie :-)

Hey guys! :wave:

I’m new here and I was hoping you guys can help me with a couple of questions.

I’m currently traveling through the area of Arrowtown and I decided to buy a large and small pan, snuffer bottle, magnet and a hand shovel.

I don’t have much space in my vehicle so I didn’t buy a big shovel, buckets, sluice etc.

Wanted to find a bit of gold as a souvenir and it just fascinates me!

I tried to prepare myself as best as possible by watching YouTube tutorials.

I noticed that it takes a bit of practice to get the hang of panning and understanding where to look.

However, so far in 80% of the pans I find at least one flake of gold. But what I don’t understand is:

For example this morning, in my first pan I had 5 decent flakes of gold. So I got excited and got a second pan from the exact same spot but then I had 0 flakes. The results are so inconsistent. I wonder if this is just normal in a day of panning or if I possibly did something wrong with the second pan? Or is this just how gold settles and it’s normal. The inconsistency is a bit frustrating haha! Would be nice if someone can explain why this happens.

Secondly, I’m wondering if it is possible when using a magnet to pick up black sand that some gold flakes get caught up in the black sand as well and I should be careful with that? Or is that something not to worry about?

Also, is insect repellent near a pan not smart either? The sandflies are unbelievably persistent, but I noticed the water gets a bit greasy it seems from the repellent and I wonder if that’s not good for the gold to stay in the pan.

And is it extremely rare to find a little nugget in the arrow river with just a hand shovel? The flakes are pretty cool and shiny in the end, but would love to find at least one little nugget as well!

Oh, last question, in the beginning I sucked up too much stuff that’s not gold with the snuffer bottle, so currently I have a mix of gold and other stuff in the bottle. What is the best technique to separate the gold out of the bottle?

I’m really enjoying this so far. It’s so much more fun than I thought. Thanks for your time!

Edit; adding a picture of the gold from two days clowning around as a newbie!


I’ll give you 2 tips. It will solve all your problems.

  1. Keep the bug spray and any thing else oily away from your gold equipment. It will make gold float, and the bug spray will eat the plastic.

  2. Gold is gold. If you shovel more, pan more, work more. Your going to end up about the same at the end of the day. Just enjoy it. You will find what is there. Magnets may or may not pick up small gold, you might find a small nugget. But you will never get rich with just a pan. You can spend money on a sluice and maybe find a bit more. You can buy a $1000 detector, and maybe find more. You can buy a $10,000 dredge and maybe find more. But gold is gold. You will only find what is where you look. If your enjoying it that is all that matter. Don’t over think it. It will do you no good. Just keep moving dirt.


Here are some answers to your questions, hopefully these help :slight_smile: .

Inconsistency is just how it is, the 1st pan might be just on the surface or bedrock and just have flood gold or it might be a tiny little paystreak just in front of this 1 rock type thing, often the paystreak can be super concentrated or there is just a tiny bit of flood gold type thing, test panning gives a great guide but to get a super good idea of a spot you normally have to do around 4-5 pans.

Grease in the water probably will actually help if anything, as this will likely break the surface tension and stop gold from floating away. (ok actually I was wrong on that sorry defintley keep the grease away, its diffirent from dish soap etc silly me)

Nuggets are so much rarer then flakes small flakes are 10X harder then dust bigger flakes are 10X harder then small flakes pickers are probably about 50X harder then big flakes and nuggets (eg I would say like over 0.2 of a gram) are probably about 50X harder to find then pickers, normally the bigger the gold the deeper (more likely to be on bedrock not flood gold) its going to be, and big gold wont wash up high on gravel bars it normally setlles out in the fast water with the big rocks where you are unlikely to find smaller gold.

Best technique to seperate I would say is really just poor that all back into a couple pans and then seperate it more carefull and just suck back up the gold and repeat this a few times until its just gold (or if you have a cleanup system this can also help).

Best of luck!

Cheers- The Sluicers

Thanks for the tips GoldStampx and the sluicer! This is from two days clowning around as a complete newbie so far, but I had heaps of fun!!

I did indeed see gold floating on top of the water quite often, I thought so it was from the spray, will need to stop doing that!


Not bad at all for a start defintley better then what we got when we were new!

Keep it up and just keep test test testing until you find that motherlode!

Good luck


To separate that very fine sand/dust from your gold fines. Dry the fine material in your pan in the sun, crease an A4 clean sheet of white paper in half long ways, lay the paper flat and gently tip the material from the pan into the fold of the paper, do this on a flat surface with good light. Use a drinking straw to gently blow the sand dust away from the fold, takes a bit of practice but this leaves the fine gold behind which can be tipped off into your gold bottle.


One word of advice, that pan is way to shiny, you could be losing gold panning as no resistance. Get a handful of rocks and just rub the shit out of those pans to form little scratches everywhere.

The arrow is a fickle river with hundreds of different pay layers through its course, find a bend dig a bank vertically down and throw water on the clean new face to look at the lines of black sands through the gravels they will be your pay streak’s. If you see the black sands on top of clay larger nuggets will be trapped inside.

Your obviously panning fine as you have found a good range of colours so technique is not a problem a magnet will trap the fine arrow gold inside the black sand so try and use the magnet in the pan under water and shake it slowly as you bring it to the surface, you will lose gold as some is so small it becomes hydrophobic on the surface just carry on panning.

Btw way if you want a small light weight sluice for travelling I have the perfect companion for you


well was there this week and spent 2 or 3 hours for a bit of fly shit ,if you do not look you do not find.

I can’t figure out how to send you a private message. But if you’re looking to sell this sluice and you are near Queenstown, please send me a message.