well...everyone thought this was waste of our time and money; u do see some beatiful scenery and get to have tea and cookies on a hot sunny hill...only for less than 200NZ (i think); the fun comes from the crazy driving that some of the drivers perform..and u get to scream and fear for your life at some of the dangerous roads. Also u get to stop by the Arrowriver and look for some gold; most of us found a tiny tiny speckle...but i saw some people who were really into it!
After we had stopped and had a look at Roaring Meg and the gorge, about 5 mins further on we saw the Gold fields Mining Centre. It was located on the opposite side of the road.
We didn't go in, but stood on the edge of the road and marvelled at how the Goldminers survived. We could see the small huts and mine entrances in the rough terrain. They blended in amongst the rocks and were quite hard to spot!
The site covers 25 hectares along the banks of the Kawarau River and Gorge. Watercourses and dams supplied the early miners with the water they needed to wash the gold from the soil.
I have read that there is still gold to be found with an estimated less than a third of the gold haven been taken from the site. While commercial mining is no longer permitted, the Centre is licensed for gold fossicking.
From Queenstown, head toward Cromwell. Goldfields is about a 50 minute drive from Queenstown on the main road to Cromwell. Prior to reaching Goldfields you will pass the Roaring Meg power station. The Mining Centre is about 5 minutes drive from here - on the right hand side of the road
There are many places in the Queenstown area where you can pan for gold. Our gold panning session was included in the LoR tour on the Arrow River which once was one of the richest rivers during the Gold Rush.
While I was busy taking photos of the action, hubby and Kimi the travel bear tested their skills in gold panning for which you do not need more than a shovel, a special pan and a lot of patience. Hubby found some dusts of gold but was told that at least here in Queenstown and Arrowtown you have to come up with bigger finds to be taken seriously and – first and foremost – be able to sell and make money with it ;-)
There are still people who do seriously search gold in the region and find little nuggets every now and then.
A good place to do gold panning and explore the history of gold mining at an historic site is the Goldfields Mining Centre on SH 6 on the way from Queenstown to Cromwell. It is a 50 min drive from Queenstown (so closer to Cromwell), to your right. You reach the centre by walking over a footbridge across the Kawarau River. When you haved passed the Roaring Meg Power Station, it is a further 5 min drive to the carpark where the footbridge starts.
They offer guided and self-guided tours, plus the already mentioned gold panning.
The direct link: http://www.goldfieldsmining.co.nz/
I took a tour to Seiffertown, an old gold mining town, on Nomad Safaris
They drive you around in Land Rovers that climb through riverbeds, up seemingly 45 degree angle hills, around edges of cliffs, and go to places that normal tourists never see.
Gorgeous views, I used 3 rolls of film on this trip alone. Halfway through the ride they stopped for drinks and snacks. Tour guide was very friendly, knowledgeable, and really knew how to push that Land Rover to it's limit.
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