This post is a bit different than usual, no science or economics here. Just some information about New Zealand traveling.
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Tawanui Campsite – Catlins, New Zealand
Tawanui is less than 2 hours south of Dunedin and a good stopping point to explore the Catlins of New Zealand. Google maps can be a bit odd giving directions here though the Department of Conservation’s directions are easy to follow. Google seems to skip over the road to the campsite when giving directions via car however correctly gives them with walking. You can see the road leading into the campsite here:
To stay it is only $6 cash per adult, $3 per child. There are a few pairs of bathrooms around the premises with sinks and flush toilets. The site itself is a series of large grassy fields. There are a few picnic tables around but not many. You cannot make a campfire here. The walking trail along the Catlins River is easy and enjoyable though there seems to have been a lot of recent logging in the area. Some points along the trail are just barren logging grounds which is a bit disappointing. Overall it was a great place to stay. When you’re in the area I highly recommend visiting Papatowai beach [directions here] as well as Nugget Point Lighthouse [directions here] and the lesser known Waipapa Point Lighthouse [directions here].
Gold Fossicking in Arrowtown, New Zealand
After buying some gold pans from NZ Dredge we were off in search for gold. In New Zealand, all minerals belong to the Crown unless a permit is obtained. Since we didn’t have a few thousand dollars and a claim to stake, we opted for gold fossicking (or recreational prospecting) at Department of Conservation designated sites. These areas have been set aside by New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals allowing anyone to pan, sluice, or metal-detect for gold. However, no non-handheld mechanical means of obtaining gold are allowed.
We checked out two areas, Arrowtown [directions here] and the Shotover River [directions here]. If you’re interested, we stayed at Nestledowns which was a great little place outside of Arrowtown. The Arrowtown area was great. There was tons of free parking by the site and beautiful scenery. It was close enough to the town so you could easily get some lunch or ice cream but far enough away to feel like the wilderness. The river itself is quite shallow in most parts and easy to cross from side to side as you look for hot spots. Bring bug spray! There are biting sandflies. However if you forget there is a Night n’ Day shop in town that sells it. You’ll also want to bring Wellington like boots to keep dry, a small container to hold you gold, and a small spade to dig as the ground is pretty rocky. There is also an Information Site which advertised gold pan and spade rentals for $3 if I remember correctly. Though it took a lot of work we got some gold in Arrowtown! I was even able to get a picker, or a piece so large you can simply “pick” it out of your pan.
The Shotover river was much different. We decided to check it out before we headed back to Dunedin because it was only 15 minutes away from Arrowtown. The area is very residential with upscale housing. You turn off the road onto a small dirt “road” which is marked as a landfill area and notes nothing about gold fossicking. After driving a bit further through what looks like a teenage hangout area you end up at the river. The ground here is really just large rocks which made it nearly impossible to get any dirt to pan. We each got about one tiny speck from the area and called it quits. On the plus side the scenery was pretty nice as the river has made a small gorge over time.
Hope you find this useful!