Date: 10 February 2012
The Department of Conservation has seized equipment found at two illegal gold sluicing sites in the Glenhope Scenic Reserve in recent weeks, and is reminding the public only approved gold prospecting is allowed in conservation areas.
On Nelson-Tasman public conservation land, recreational gold fossicking is allowed at four sites, two on tributaries of the Howard River in the Glenhope Scenic Reserve and two on Golden Bay’s Aorere River. Only hand-held, non-motorised equipment can be used.
In early January, DOC staff seized sluicing equipment, including a motorised pump and pipes, found in the recreational gold fossicking area at Louis Creek in Glenhope Scenic Reserve. On Thursday, 2 February DOC staff seized gold sluicing equipment found at a site further up Louis Creek outside the approved fossicking area. At both sites, no one was using the equipment at the time and those responsible for it have not been located.
DOC Nelson Lakes Community Relations Programme Manager John Wotherspoon said those carrying out the gold sluicing did not have the required approval of DOC or the necessary New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals permits.
‘The designated gold fossicking sites provide a recreational gold panning experience for families and others to enjoy for some fun and to hopefully collect a few flakes of gold. Those using motorised equipment in these approved fossicking sites are spoiling it for others.
‘Illegal gold prospecting operations often cause environmental damage including to river banks and vegetation.
‘The Louis Creek fossicking site is of historical interest having been used for gold prospecting during the 1930s Depression. There are some amazing historical workings there, such as water races and tailings, which can be damaged by illegal gold prospecting.
‘We were alerted to the two illegal sluicing sites in Glenhope Scenic Reserve by members of the public who found them. We are grateful to those people for reporting it to us and encourage others to report such illegal activity by calling the DOC 24-hour helpline DOCHOTline/0800 36 24 68 or contacting the nearest DOC office. We also appeal for information from the public to help us find those involved in the two sluicing operations.
‘People illegally prospecting in conservation areas need to be aware they and their equipment are likely to be discovered and they can be prosecuted and their gear seized.’
In July last year a Golden Bay man was sentenced to 225 hours’ community service for gold prospecting without authority on public conservation land in the Anatori River area. The court also ordered the forfeiture of his equipment used to commit the offence and ordered him to pay costs of $1237.
A mining permit from New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals is usually required for gold mining or panning.
To make gold panning a more accessible experience, New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals has set aside designated gold fossicking sites under the Crown Minerals Act 1991 where people can freely enjoy recreational gold mining without the need for a permit. They include sites administered by the Department of Conservation such as those in Glenhope Scenic Reserve and on the Aorere River.
John Wotherspoon, DOC Nelson Lakes Community Relations Programme Manager, ph: +64 3 521 1806, or
Trish Grant, DOC Nelson Marlborough Communications Advisor, ph: +64 3 546 3146.