In the 19th century discovering gold was a way out of poverty. From the 1860s gold rush followed gold rush, and thousands flocked to the fields. But the work was harsh, with days spent digging in cold creek beds. Only a lucky few found riches in the rock. However, the collective value of the gold that was discovered kick-started the young colony’s economy. Gold was the making of early New Zealand.
Explore stamper batteries and other mining relics; Visit Hot Water Beach; Prospect and pan for gold; Appreciate the hardships of the early gold-miners; Compare environmental management now and in the early days of NZ mining; Visit open cast and/or underground mines.
Curriculum and assessment:
Planet Earth and Beyond, Material World
AS 90952, AS 91162: AS 90932
The first recorded discovery of gold in New Zealand was by Charles Ring, a Tasmanian who found a small amount at Driving Creek near the town of Coromandel in 1852. Some years later there were more discoveries around Golden Bay and Marlborough, Otago and on the West Coast. Some finds amounted to nothing, but others led to huge gold rushes.
Gold is found as very small flecks in the quartz veins of hard rocks. The gold can be mined from the rocks through tunnelling, but it is difficult. Machines called stamper batteries were used to crush the rock, and the chemical cyanide helped to separate out the gold.
Alluvial gold comes from the rocks once they have been worn down to sand and gravel over many thousands of years by rivers or glaciers. The gold lies in the gravel of river beds and can be sifted by hand using a pan, sluiced, dredged, or dug up with machines.
Choice of activities
- Explore stamper batteries and other mining relics (Karangahake Gorge, Broken Hills)
- Explore an underground mine (Karangahake Gorge, Thames)
- Visit Hot Water Beach
- Prospect and pan for gold. Thames
- Visit a working stamper battery (Thames)
- Appreciate the hardships of the early gold-miners
- Compare environmental management now and in the early days of NZ mining
- Visit open cast mine (Waihi)
Curriculum and assessment:
Learning area strand:
Material and Physical Worlds
: Relating to others, thinking
Planet Earth & Beyond AS 90952
Demonstrate understanding of the formation of surface features in New Zealand.
Demonstrate understanding of the chemistry in a technological application.
2020 Prices from
Number of Students
Cost per head
- Research, planning, bookings and organisation
- Activities as specified in ininerary
- Letter to parents
- RAMS form
- Gear list
- A master copy of worksheets
- Use of specialized equipment
- Saving you a great deal of time and hassle
- Transport (bus, to and from school). Ask us to quote if you don’t have access to your own.
- Class set of worksheets – it’s more cost effective for you to copy these at school.
Make a booking Contact us
Q1. Why do teachers choose to tour with Learning Journeys?
Using an outside provider like Learning Journeys allows you to avoid stress and save time to focus on the core demands of teaching and have more time with your family and friends.
- Trips are well tried and tested and our local knowledge, New Zealand-wide, is extensive. • We’ll facilitate your trip as well as planning, recce-ing AND booking it (including transport, food and accommodation). Have as much or as little input as you want.
- Our facilitators are secondary geography or science teachers with years of classroom as well as EOTC experience.
- Trips are curriculum linked and can include NCEA assessment tasks.
- RAMS forms, parents letters, gear lists and worksheets developed and provided for you.
- We’re Qualmarked (Tourism New Zealand has checked us out as a safe, professional, company) and Dept. of Conservation approved.
Q2. Does it cost more for Learning Journeys to organise and run my school's science and geography trips?
Yes it does cost a little more per student. However, you need to factor in the time you'll save by using Learning Journeys. You will also save the cost of relief for staff who would otherwise have come from your school, since Learning Journeys will provide one or more facilitators who will contribute to staff-student ratios.
Q3. What about risk management?
Safety is always paramount in our trip planning and delivery. We are acutely aware of the responsibility of being entrusted with other people’s children. We will provide you with RAMS forms for all activities included in your programme.
Our Health and Safety Plan deals with every aspect of our operations and training. Hazard identification is carried out for every new activity and a RAMS (Risk Analysis and Management System) form is prepared. This process has been audited both by a Department of Conservation approved Safety Auditor and as part of our Qualmark® accreditation
Our teacher-facilitators are trained in safe practice and all have First Aid qualifications. The suppliers we use are fully qualified and experienced in their specialist areas and where available we choose to work with Qualmarked® operators. Their sound safety records are further guaranteed by the Qualmark®, accreditation process.
Qualmark® is New Zealand tourism's official mark of quality. All accommodation and tourism businesses carrying the Qualmark® have been independently assessed as professional and trustworthy, so you can book and buy with confidence.
Q4. Who are your facilitators?
Our trips are managed and facilitated by qualified science or social science secondary teachers with classroom experience as well as many years’ experience in the field.
Q5. How long have you been running field trips for New Zealand secondary students?
Since 2001. Our oldest client did 12 consecutive yearly 3 day trips to Goat Island and Tiritiri Matangi Island. Most other schools repeat trips year after year.