Apply for an access arrangement to prospect, explore or mine on public conservation land.

Anyone wanting to undertake activities such as prospecting, exploration and mining must have a permit from New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals. They also require permission from the landowner for access to the land. For public conservation land permission for access is required from DOC. Find out what permission you will need and how to apply below.


  • Recreational gold fossicking (such as hand panning) doesn’t require permission at public designated gold fossicking areas.
  • Extraction of sand, shingle, or other natural material in the bed of a river or lake and not referred to in any NZ Petroleum and Minerals Minerals Programme requires a concession from DOC.
  • If you plan to mine in the Coastal Marine Area you will only require permission from DOC if the land is also public conservation land.

Pre-application meeting

It’s a good idea to discuss your proposal with our specialist mining staff in the Hokitika office before lodging your application.

We’ll help you to:

  • Understand the permission you will need to apply for.
  • Navigate our statutory planning documents, so you can consider whether the activity you wish to undertake is consistent with them.
  • Understand DOC’s responsibility to give effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, which requires consultation with Treaty Partners on most applications. If you wish, DOC can help you contact the local iwi, hapū, and whānau to assess whether your proposed activity will have any cultural effects. Often this consultation can enhance the activity you are considering.

You should also:

Type of permission 

There are four types of permission you are likely to need for mining related activities. 

  1. Minimum impact activity consent – for activities that fit the definition of a minimum impact activity in the Crown Minerals Act. These are usually for activities such as aerial surveying, sampling and surveying using hand held methods only.  
  2. Access arrangement – for any prospecting, exploration or mining activity that is not a minimum impact activity.
  3. Wildlife authorisation – for any activity that involves interacting with wildlife such as catching, handling, transferring, releasing or killing wildlife.
  4. Concession  – for any secondary activity that would be located outside of your Access arrangement and/or the boundary of your New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals permit eg, an easement for an access/haul road. 

Your DOC contact can advise you what permission(s) you are likely to need during your pre-application meeting. 

Apply for permission

Follow the relevant process below for your activity.

Minimum impact activity

Prospecting, exploration and mining

You may also require resource consents from your regional and/or district councils and/or approval from the Historic Places Trust.

We will provide an estimate of the likely application processing time and cost when your application is received. 

Find out more

Find out more about the process and how to prepare your application.

Permissions application process

Preparing a permission application


Complex applications could take a number of months to be processed.

Applications for significant mining activities must be publicly notified. If public notification  is required there will be additional processing timeframes and costs for those applications. Staff from the Hokitika office will advise you if this is likely. 

See How long it takes to process an application for more information on application timeframes.


Minimum impact activity

Your fee will be $500 plus GST ($575 including GST) for straightforward applications and $850 plus GST ($977.50 including GST) for complex applications. 

Prospecting, exploration and mining

The estimated processing fee for straightforward low impact applications (eg, suction dredging) is $2,150 plus GST ($2,472.50 including GST). If the application is complex or medium/high impact then further costs would be incurred. In this situation you will be sent an estimate.

Medium impact applications can cost in the range of $3,000 to $30,000 plus GST. The majority of medium impact applications (eg, small/medium scale alluvial gold mining and drilling at numerous locations) generally cost in the range of $4,000 to $8,000 plus GST. High impact applications can cost from $50,000 to more than $100,000 plus GST. 

Applications for significant mining activities must be publicly notified. If public notification is required there will be additional processing timeframes and costs for those applications. Staff from the Hokitika office will advise you if this is likely. 

Other requirements 

If you are granted an access arrangement then it is likely that you will be required to:

  • lodge/enter into a bond with DOC
  • hold relevant insurance policies (for insurance types such as: Public Liability, Forest and Rural Fires and Third Party Motor Vehicle)
  • pay ongoing fees for aspects such as compensation, monitoring and cost recovery associated with annual approvals. 

Useful information

Assessments of environmental effects

See the documents below for guidelines on specific activities and what to include in your assessment of environmental effects. You must include one of these for all access arrangement applications.  

General information

Contact us

For more information or assistance with your application contact the Hokitika office.

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