Goldrush Online
Home Journal Links

Search over 85,000 records of goldminers from the Otago, West Coast and Thames goldrushes of New Zealand, spanning the years 1861 to 1872.

Family Name

Exact match
Wild card

First Name

Exact match
Wild card

Filter by District
To reduce the number of results


This database has been transcribed and composed by Dr Kae Lewis, and is brought to you to search freely online using database software developed and operated by Dr Evan Lewis, as a community service. The Goldminer's database is an index only and cannot be used as a substitute for viewing the original records.


Otago Mining Records (1861 - 1866)

West Coast Mining Records (1865 - 1871)

Thames Mining Records (1867 - 1872)

If you find a record in the database that interests you, the above links will tell you how to look up the original archive source record.


Each record on the database has a TYPE code which tells you the type of source record that was transcribed. This link below will give you the key to the TYPE CODES found on the database for each record. These will help you understand the activity the goldminer was involved in at the time the record was captured on the goldfield.

Link to Codes for Record TYPE in the Database





A quote from the book:
by Kae Lewis

'It took grit and determination to decide to dig a shaft down 100 feet and enter into the bowels of the earth each day in search of a gold-studded leader, or better still, a wide reef full of gold. Using only the flickering light of a candle, the digger chipped away at the rock with his pick, examining each chunk of quartz as it fell for the tell-tale signs of gold. When he locked on to a 'likely-looking' leader, he would follow it wherever it lead him, further down into the earth, or across with a horizontal drive, then back down again with a winze. Soon he was lost beneath the earth, with tons of rock over his head and knowing always that it could all come down on him at any moment.' (p697)


New Zealand 1867-69

by Kae Lewis

Goldrush Book

This book tells the story of the Thames Goldfields when thousands of miners were digging for gold high in the ranges behind the Thames township, beginning in 1867. The book documents almost all the important claims on the Thames and Tapu Goldfields, describing the individual workings on each claim and the methods they used to find and retrieve the gold. In conjunction with the GOLDMINER'S DATABASE (upper left on this webpage) it goes a long way towards answering the questions:

Who were the diggers?

Where was their claim?

How did they find the gold?

Did they find any?

See the book's TABLE OF CONTENTS

This book is available to purchase at CARSON'S BOOKSHOP in Thames. They have the book in stock at their Thames shop, and also available online on their WEBSITE. They also stock the abridged version.

Copies are also available to purchase at The Treasury in Thames, New Zealand. The abridged version is also available. To order, email The Treasury Book Shop or post to: The Treasury Publications, The Coromandel Heritage Trust, PO Box 75, Thames 3540, New Zealand.

You will also find copies of the book for sale at The Rock Shop, Thames School of Mines.

Goldrush to The Thames 1867-69 is now indexed on the Goldminer's Database

The larger complete volume of this work, 777 pages, is now indexed in the GOLDMINER'S DATABASE on this webpage. If there is more information about a particular claim in the large version of the book, you will be given the page number.

This does not apply to the abridged (shortened) version of the book, which does not give the all details of claims but is simply the story of the Thames Goldfield for the more casual reader. Anyone interested in details of all the mining claims or genealogy should order the large version of the GOLDRUSH TO THE THAMES book.

Quartz containing a vein of gold.


The goldminers called a rock like this a
'specimen rock' or a 'jewellery box'.
Gold Miner Journal
Edited by Kae Lewis

The New Zealand Goldrush Journal is a collection of stories about the New Zealand Goldrush (1861 - 1872) contributed by readers of this website. These will include stories of individual miners as well as descriptions of the various goldfields, the conditions the miners found there when they arrived and the equipment they used to find, collect and purify the gold. Anyone with a goldrush story to tell will be welcome to contribute, just contact the Editor


Panning For Alluvial Gold

(called placer gold in California)

'Looking for Colour.'

Specks, grains and occasionally nuggets of gold were found loose in the sands and gravels of rivers or alluvial soil, especially in California USA, Victoria Australia and Otago New Zealand. Originally this gold was in the quartz reefs high in the mountains where it eroded over the eons until it washed out into the rivers. Here the powerful currents removed any quartz still adhering to the gold, reducing it to a powery consistantcy spread amongst the river gravel and sands at the bottom of the river or washed up on the banks

Gold Pan
An old gold pan.

How to Pan For Gold

Gold nugget
A gold nugget is usually pitted like
this from erosion in the rivers.
Click to enlarge the image

A Cradle

A Cradle
Click to enlarge the image.

A steady stream of water from the top washes the gravel through the sieve(s) in the cradle. The heavier gold falls to the bottom and is caught on a blanket as the cradle is rocked. It was more efficient than a pan.

A Sluice Box

A Sluice Box

As the river gravel passes through the sluice box in a steady stream of water, the heavier gold is caught in slats, raffles or a blanket while the lighter sand passes over the top.

Source of photo: Alexander Turnball Library, Wellington.

A Sluice Gun

(called a Monitor in California)
A Sluice Box
Click to enlarge the image.

A powerful jet of water is used to wash away the hillsides and river banks, releasing any gold-bearing soils and sand from the banks. Gold could then be extracted from the loose material using a pan, cradle or sluice box.

A sluice gun being used to wash gold from the river banks at The Goldfields Mining Centre, Kawarau River, Otago, 2012.

Cashing In

Gold Scales
Click to enlarge the image.

Gold could be handed in to the Government Gold Receiver or exchanged with a bank or merchant in town. At the General Store, the miners could exchange their gold for supplies of food or mining tools. Even the hotels and restaurants kept weighing scales to settle the bills in gold. The Bank of New Zealand, Bank of New South Wales or The Union Bank of Australia were all operating on the New Zealand Goldfields and purchased gold from the miners. They could keep a credit on record at the Bank, or take the cash if they needed it for running expenses. Many miners held on to their gold but this was a dangerous practice with armed bandits always waiting for an opportunity to take it from them.

Gold Bars Pile up in Bank Vaults.

Gold dust and nuggets from alluvial mining was melted down and turned into gold/silver (bullion) bars.


Digging For Quartz Gold

A Pick A Chisel

Quartz gold is found underground in the main reefs or veins in the living rock walls. In Thames, New Zealand in 1868, a few rare reefs were on the surface but most were 100 - 200 feet below. The miners created a network of shafts and tunnels using a pick-axe (left) and a hand held two-man chisel (right) to break up the rock and a shovel to move the rubble. This was then transported out of the mine to the surface using a wheelbarrow or tramway.

A Quartz Mine

A Quartz Mine
© Photo by Craig Lewis
Click to enlarge the image.

A quartz mine at Waiotahi, Thames, New Zealand which shows how the miners followed a gold-bearing reef as it plunged towards the centre of the earth. It required a considerable outlay to start a mine like this, and the individual miners of the 1800s often did not have the cash to develop the full potential of their claim. They banded together in groups of 4 - 20 men to pool their resources, or formed a company to raise finance. Shares in the Gold Mining Companies were traded on the streets of Thames from 1868 onwards.

A tour of an abandoned mine at Coromandel.

A Tramway

Tram trolly
Click to enlarge the image.
© Photo by Harley Ploughman.

To remove the heavy quartz from the mine, tramways, were constructed, and operated by people-power, horses and later, steam or diesel-powered engines. The rails were then extended to take the quartz all the way to the battery for crushing. This tramway in the Silver Queen Mine at Maratoto was last used in the 1970s.

A Stamper Battery

A Stamper Battery
Click to enlarge the image.

The quartz had to be crushed (or pulverized) to release the gold as a powder. The batteries could have any number of stampers, in this case five. Larger stamping batteries had as many as 20 and 40 stampers in a row. In the early days, the operation of the stampers required a supply of running water to run a water wheel or pelton wheel to power the battery, and for washing out the pulverised quartz from the boxes at their base. Steam-powered stamping batteries were more efficient, although expensive, and required a good source of fuel and water.

A five-stamper quartz battery and a berdan in operation using water power and a pelton wheel at The Goldfields Mining Centre, Otago, 2012.

In the 1860s, the gold was picked up from the base of the stamping battery by dissolving it in mercury. The mercury-gold amalgam was collected, then retorted to leave behind the pure gold/silver bullion that was melted into bars. By the 1890s, the mines began to use the more efficient cyanide process to separate their fine gold. However, their coarse gold still had to be collected with mercury, so the use of mercury in the mine batteries was never completely eliminated, just reduced.

A Retort

A retort
Photographed at Goldmine Experience, Thames.
Click to enlarge the image.

Gold bars and bags of gold dust or nuggets were loaded into stout wooden chests and taken under high security to the nearest port for shipping to the London gold markets.

Bullion Chest
Contact: Kae Lewis

© The content of the entire GoldRush Online website and database is copyright and not for reproduction on any other website.
Edward Hooper
Edward Hooper (1830 - 1899)
Goldminer at Tapu, Thames
(1868 - 1871/2)

This website was composed and compiled by Kae Lewis in memory of her great great grandparents Edward Hooper and his wife Elizabeth Ann nee Bates. Like everyone whose name appears on this website, they too answered the call of the gold.

Edward Hooper arrived in Australia where he married Elizabeth Ann Bates in South Australia in 1863. While Edward worked in the copper mines at Burra Burra, South Australia, Elizabeth gave birth to a son in 1864 and a daughter in 1866. Then gold was proclaimed in Thames New Zealand in August 1867. With two toddlers and another on the way, Edward and Elizabeth boarded a ship to New Zealand, landing on the shore at Tapu in the middle of winter, just in time for Elizabeth to give birth to another son in October 1868. Edward set to work immediately, taking out a Miner's Right at Tapu in July 1868 and another in August 1869. In April 1869, he bought a share in a mine named Count of Mont Cristo at Tapu with four other men. Another son, Herbert George Hooper (the great grandfather of Kae Lewis) was born at Tapu in August 1869. They now had four children under the age of 5, and against all odds on the goldfields in these days, kept everyone alive and thriving. By 1873, when their 5th child was born, the Hooper family had moved to Gisborne where Edward worked at the Makauri sawmill owned by William King. They lived in Gisborne for the rest of their lives and had 8 children altogether. Elizabeth died in Gisborne in 1894, Edward in 1899.