Gold rush (New Zealand)

Where can I find information about the gold rushes in New Zealand?

Senior Primary

(Years 5-8)

1880s black and white photo of two men panning for gold.

Image: Photograph of two men panning for gold by Miss K Carruthers. Collection: PAColl-7287 Alexander Turnbull Library.

Entry last updated: 7/07/22


The New Zealand gold rush began with the discovery of gold in the Coromandel area in 1852. As more gold was discovered, people came to New Zealand from all over the world looking to strike it rich. This influx of settlers hoping to make their fortune had a big impact on New Zealand's early economy.

General websites

The websites below are the best places to find information about the history of gold mining in Aotearoa New Zealand, famous goldfields and methods of mining.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Try using the search words 'gold rush'.

  • The story Gold and gold mining covers places like Otago, West Coast and other places where gold was found, the life of miners including Māori and Chinese miners.

  • Check out the link to All images & media in this story from the top of the page. Select Arrowtown and Gabriels Gully and read the information included with these images

Tips: It is not always OK to use photos and images you've found on a website. Before you use them it's important to check whether you are allowed by looking at the usage rights.


NZHistory is another great website from the Ministry for Culture & Heritage. It has lots of history about events, people and places in Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • Use the keywords 'gold rush' to find the article First major gold rush in Otago about the first large discovery of gold in 1861.

  • Or use the search words 'gold mining' to read about Waiuta, the town for the South Island's largest gold mine between 1906 to 1951.

  • Remember to explore Images & media from the search result page.

Tips: Keywords, or search words, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, e.g 'gold rush' or 'gold mining'. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals

New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). They made laws regarding mining in Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • Use the search words 'gold' to read about gold fossicking and the areas in the South Island where you can pan for gold.

  • Select the article called History of minerals and coal.

  • It explains the history of the New Zealand mining industry since 1840 along with a map showing all the gold mining sites around New Zealand.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.


DigitalNZ allows you to search a variety of New Zealand libraries, museums, galleries, government departments, and media all in a single search.

  • Use the keywords 'gold rush' or 'gold mining' in the search box.

  • You will find collections of images, videos, audio and more.

  • Go through the images of Aotearoa New Zealand during the gold rush days or watch the video Gold fever in Hokitika.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

Department of Conservation

The Department of Conservation (DOC for short) is the government website about preserving the natural and historical sites of New Zealand. You can see it’s a government site by looking at the About us or Contact links at the top of the page.


The following books have good information about the New Zealand gold rushes. Check with your school or public library for more.

SCIS no: 1870190

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