Tuesday, 30 November 2010


By visiting Takaka Hill we almost reached the northern top of the South Island. So from there we went all the way south to the southern end. And since the South Island stretches really far from north to south, that journey took a long time...

On the first day of our southwards journey we passed Greymouth. Greymouth was the Goldmining Mekka of New Zealand in the last century. The South Island, but especially this area attracted thousands of Gold Miners every year. Most of the towns on the South Island's west coast are former Gold Mining towns. In fact most of those towns started as Gold Mining settlements. Some were abandoned when the Gold thinned out, others remained.

We didn't spend much time in Greymouth though and went further southwards. However the journey is long and arduous and even your faithful travellers need to sleep now and then. So we made a stop near Greymouth at a little community operated camping ground recommended to us by our little South Island Camping Guide. The camping ground was in a small town called Nelson Creek.

abandoned gold mining equipment

Nelson Creek has its own story to tell about its Gold Mining past. Apparently a prospector called Nelson brought a bunch of Gold Miners to this point promising that Gold has been found in the creek. When the bunch couldn't find Gold for over one month they decided to go for the prospector and hang him. Just when they were about to carry out their chosen penalty, one of the Gold Miners, that had not yet given up, ran up to the settlement crying that he had found a thick vein of gold. After that the people were sorry and apologized and in the end named both the creek and the settlement and later township after their prospector.

there a some digged tunnels you can explore
old miner's camp site

Nowadays Nelson Creek remains a little village with a bunch of houses. Still they decided to throw their lot together and build and maintain this free camping ground (donations welcome) at the border of the creek. In the whole area remainders of the Gold Mining past can still be found. Old miner's campsites, tunnels, digging holes, bridges and lots more. But above all there is still Gold in the area. And as long as you use non-destructive, non-automatic, traditional tools like pan, shovel and pick-axe, you are actually allowed to scour the area for gold.

Behold our pointy sticks!

And so we did! Instead of the tools mentioned, however, we used pointy sticks. Not as effective you might think, but behold what we have found:

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