A quote from the book "GOLDRUSH TO THE THAMES" by Kae Lewis 2017 (p697)
"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 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 horozontal 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."
A special release for the 150th Anniversary of the opening of the Thames Goldfield in August 1867 is a new book
GOLDRUSH TO THE THAMES New Zealand 1867 to 1869
by Kae Lewis
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 150 years ago 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 GOLDMINERS' DATABASE on this website, 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?
Both versions are now available to order directly from the Printer ZoePrint in the United States. They accept credits cards and can ship worldwide. The cost of the larger version of GOLDRUSH TO THE THAMES is $US$120 for the set of two volumes, plus postage. A new abridged edition (324 pages) is now available at a cost of US$49.90 plus postage.
Both books are also available to buy in New Zealand at select bookshops, including the ROCKSHOP at the School of Mines, Thames.
Cost NZ$85 for the original 777 page volume, and NZ$50 for the abridged version.
Copies are also available to buy online in New Zealand at The Treasury, Thames, or visit their
SHOP for more details.
Please note that the larger complete volume of this work, 777 pages, is now indexed on the GOLDMINERS' 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 version, which does not give the details of claims but is simply the story of the Thames goldfield. Anyone interested in details of all the mining claims should order the large version.
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
Methods used to obtain gold in the Gold Rushes of the 1800s.
Looking for color.
Panning for alluvial gold
(called placer gold in California)
Found in rivers or alluvial soil, especially in Otago, NZ.
Click to check the pan for gold.
The gold can be picked up from the pan by disolving it in mercury.
The mercury-gold amalgam is then burned off to leave behind the pure gold.
The old miners did not appreciate how bad this was for their health.
Click to enlarge the image.
More efficient than a pan, a cradle relies on the prinicple that the heavier gold
will fall to the bottom and be caught on a blanket as the cradle is rocked.
A steady stream of water ensures the gravel is washed through, hopefully leaving any colour behind.
A Sluice Box
Click to enlarge the image.
The heavier gold is caught in slats, raffles or a blanket as the gravel passes through the sluice box in a steady stream of water.
Photo from Alexander Turnball Library, Wellington.
A Sluice Gun
(called a Monitor in California)
Click to enlarge the image.
A powerful jet of water is used to wash away the hillsides and river banks, hopefully releasing the gold-bearing soils.
Gold can then be extracted from the loose soils using a pan, cradle or sluice box.
Gold could be handed in to the Government Gold Receiver or exchanged with merchants in town. At the General Store, they could exchange their gold for supplies of food, mining tools and in
the case of quartz miners, for blasting powder. Even the pubs 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 would purchased gold from the miners who 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 dust and nuggets were melted down and purified by the banks, and turned into gold bars. These were taken under high security to the nearest port for shipping to the London gold markets.
Digging for quartz gold
Usually found underground
in 'reefs' or 'veins',
especially in Thames, NZ.
A quartz mine at Waiotahi, Thames, New Zealand which shows how the miners followed a gold-bearing reef as it plunged towards the center of the earth. It required a
considerable outlay to start a mine like this and the individual miners
of the 1800s did not usually have the cash to develop the full potential of their claim. Often 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.
Quartz laden with gold is extremely heavy so a tramway
was contructed to get it out of the mine.
Then the rails could be extended to take the
quartz all the way to the battery for crushing.
A good example of this is the
at Thames, New Zealand.
A Stamper Battery
Click to enlarge the image.
The quartz had to be crushed or pulverized to release the gold as dust.
The batteries could have any number of stampers, in this case five.
This was a small more mobile stamper which could be taken to the mine entrance.
Operating the stampers required a supply of running water
to operate a water wheel or pelton wheel and for washing out
and sluicing the pulverized quartz. Many of them were steam-powered,
which also required a good source of fuel and water.
The stamper batteries were placed either beside a stream,
or alternatively water was brought in using a
Just sometimes, a miner can
trip over a nugget.
and carry it away to the bank.
Click to enlarge the image
This webpage 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 also answered the call of the gold.
Edward Hooper arrived in Otago New Zealand in 1861 as an unmarried 30 year old miner in time for the opening of the goldfield at Gabriel's Gully.
Later he returned to 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. Elizabeth gave birth
to another son, Herbert George Hooper (the great grandfather of Kae Lewis) 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.