Find out about past mining activities in New Zealand by visiting mining heritage sites. From Northland's Puhipuhi Mercury Mines to Stewart Island's Port Pegasus Tin Mining, these DOC-managed sites show the important role mining has played in New Zealand's history.

This theme covers all mineral mining industries other than coal and gold mining and includes quarries.

Minerals were important to Maori for tools and weapons since they did not have access to iron. Minerals were extracted by Maori at quarries, eg obsidian and argillite.

The first significant extractive industry in New Zealand was the 1859 copper mine on Kawau Island. However, relative to gold and coal mining, New Zealand has not had an abundance of other precious mineral mining.

Quarrying has been an important but unsung activity, providing metal for roads, ballast for railways, stone for building, clay for bricks and ceramics, fill for reclamations, and lime for cement and agriculture.

DOC actively manages these sites representing the ‘Mining - General’ theme:



  • Miners Point, 1844-55 - copper mining 
  • Smelting House, Kawau Island, 1849-52 - copper mining 
  • Miners Head, Great Barrier Island 1842-67 - copper mining 
  • Plows Road Manganese Mining Complex, c.1930s  
  • Motutara Island, 1929-1940s - quarrying 


  • Waipuku, 1906 - rail ballast quarry
  • Mokau Lime Kiln, circa 1895 -  building lime processing

Nelson Marlborough

  • Hacket Chromite Mines, 1862
  • Asbestos Cottage, 1897
  • Onekaka Iron Quarry and Dam, 1924

West Coast


  • Staveley Pot Lime Kiln
  • Staveley Langdon Lime Kiln
  • Kakahu Lime Kiln - agricultural lime


  • Tarawera Smelter, Preservation Inlet, 1911
  • Port Pegasus Tin Mining, Stewart Island 1888 and 1912

Further reading

Smith, Nigel. (2001). Heritage of Industry: discovering New Zealand’s industrial history. (Reed, Auckland).

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