History of Gold in New Zealand

1852 Charles Ring discovers gold at Cabbage Bay, Coromandel; at McCaskill’s Driving Creek, Ohinemuri, and at Te Aroha

1861 Gabriel Read discovers gold in Otago, followed by a gold rush

1862 Gold rush to Marlborough

1865 Gold rush to West Coast

1866 Record gold production of over 22 tonnes

1875 Gold rush to Waihi

1889 World’s first commercial use of cyanide solution gold recovery at Karangahake

1980 Gold price reaches $US612

1988 Martha opencast mine opens at Waihi

1990 Macraes mine opens in Otago

1992 Production commences from Golden Cross mine north of Waikino

1997 Passage of legislation banning mining on DoC land on northern Coromandel and other areas

1998 Gold price falls below $US300

1998 Golden Cross mine closes north of Waikino

No one knows exactly how much gold has been mined in New Zealand. Official records show that up to 2003 a total of 998.71 tonnes had been found – about 0.8% of all the gold ever mined in the world. Because gold production data have been collected in different ways over the years, there are a few inconsistences and significant gaps in figures. Available information shows that up to 2003 a minimum of 312 tonnes had come from the Coromandel Peninsula, 265 tonnes from Otago, and 274 tonnes from the West Coast.

The two large booms in production were in the 1860s and in the decade after. There was a smaller boom starting in the late 1980s (opencast hard-rock mining).

Without gold New Zealand’s early economy would not have developed as quickly as it did. Gold attracted people, investment and shipping. Miners had to be fed and clothed. Breweries were built, roads and bridges were constructed, and infrastructure developed.

New Zealand’s total gold output in 2003 was worth over $200 million and is expected to increase.

Sources: GoldMine Experience NZ, Teara Encyclopaedia NZ

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