Gold Miner The New Zealand Goldrush Journal

Volume 2 (2018)


The Middle Tapu Creek

by Kae Lewis

The Claims Along the South Bank of Tapu Creek.

The claims in this central area along the south bank of the lower Tapu Creek are clustered just above the township and near to the Lord Nelson Stamping Battery. The other cluster of claims on the south bank are further up the Tapu Creek and include the Golden Spur claim and those around them. They were using the riverbank track to access the Fraser or Sanderson Stamping Batteries. Along the ridges south of the Golden Spur Claim are another cluster of claims such as the Victoria Cross and the Full Moon. These claims had constructed further tracks which all led down to the Lord Nelson Battery near the mouth of the Tapu Creek and the township.

Middle Tapu Claims
Figure 1: A Survey Plan of the Central area of Tapu Creek Gold Diggings dated 1867-1868.
Surveyed by A. & H Fisher Bros, Surveyors & Sharebrokers of Tapu Creek. Redrawn by Evan Lewis (see the book 'Goldrush to the Thames 1867-1868' by Kae Lewis.)
Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Public Library NZ Map 69.
Click to enlarge the photo.

The Three Ridges On the Lower End of the South Bank of Tapu Creek.

No 1 Creek, south Bank Figure 2: A map showing the claims at the lower end of the southbank of the Tapu Creek
Surveyed in 1868 by A. & H Fisher Bros,
Surveyors & Sharebrokers of Tapu Creek.
Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections,
Auckland Public Library NZ Map 69.
Click to enlarge the photo.
south bank of Tapu Creek Figure 3: An aerial photograph of Tapu Creek taken in 1961, with the Coroglen Road running along the south bank in the centre of the photograph. The circular ridge can be seen immediately behind the three front ridges, above the road on the south bank of the Tapu Creek.
Source: Whites Aviation Ltd Collection Ref: WA-56858-G.
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
Click to enlarge the photo.

The Circular Ridge of Middle Tapu Creek.

Aerial Photo of Middle Tapu Creek
Figure 4: A high resolution aerial view of the central section of Tapu Creek taken in 1944.
Source: Retrolens: A historical Imagery Resource SN292
Click to enlarge the photo.

The circular ridge of the middle Tapu Goldfield is located just under one mile up the creek from Tapu township and the coastline (see the 1 mile marker drawn on Figure 1). This ridge was the location of a string of claims, as seen in Figure 1, stretching from the Governor Hobson and Golden Spur through the Montezzuma Claim, the Perseverence, Dauntless, True Blue, Golden Head and Shoulders, Golden Horn and on to the New York Claims. As on the north side of Tapu Creek, all these claims are situated at the top of the ridge and over each side, as it falls away. It seems likely this circular ridge is another ancient volcano rim. As with the one on the north bank, this one was also rich in gold. Off this main south ridge are several east-west ridges branching off it, where there are another large collection of claims, such as the Victoria Cross, the Summer Hill and the Golden Cross.

As seen in Figure 6 below, there were two main quartz reefs or veins identified in the upper south bank area: The Golden Point Reef and the Sheridan Reef. The Golden Point Reef starts at the claim of that name on the north bank, passes under the Tapu creek and runs up towards the Golden Spur and the Montezzuma. The Sheridan Reef appears to run right along the main ridge, in the direction of the Perseverence, Dauntless and the True Blue Claims. This main ridge has been identified as being the Main Fault of the area. It continues up across the creek, up No 4 Creek and into the area of the Tapu Goldmining Claim (North Tapu - see Part II).

geological map
Figure 5: A geological map of Tapu Creek, showing the three main quartz veins where gold was found. The middle Tapu Creek area is represented in the lower one third of the diagram.
Source: The NZ Geological Survey, Bulletin 10, 1910.
Click to enlarge the photo.
From The New Zealand Geological Survey, Bulletin 10, by Colin Fraser 1910:
'The country rock of the Sheridan Reef consists of andesite. The ore obtained was very rich within the limits of the two intersecting reefs. Some of the specimens yeilded 3 oz of gold to the one pound of stone. The records of the output from this patch are not obtainable but in later years, the claims consolidated into the Sheridan Company which crushed 1,166 tons of ore for bullion valued at 3368.'
stamping battery
Figure 6: Stamping Batteries of Tapu Creek about 1868-9
Photo by James D. Richardson
Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Public Library
Click to enlarge the photo.

The Goldminers on the South Bank of the Tapu Creek 1868.

Who Were They?

The First Ridge on the South Bank, near the Lord Nelson Stamping Battery

This gold diggings was located half a mile up the Tapu Creek from Tapu Township and the coastline.(See the map in Figure 2 above)
  1. A1 Claim
  2. The New Zealand Herald 18 November 1868: 'The A1 claim is busily engaged in puddling a quantity of mullock. They have a very good prospect, and the stuff is likely to turn out very well. Their ground is of a very shaky nature, and has necessitated a great deal of timbering. The recent rains have done considerable damage to their workings. The shaft, being situated in the bed of a small gully, has filled with water, and is now used as a reservoir for puddling purposes. They intend putting down a new shaft as soon as the work they are presently doing is finished.'
  3. Marquis of Hastings Claim
  4. The New Zealand Herald 23 October 1868: 'The Marquis of Hastings claim, Tapu Creek struck another leader 2 feet 6 inches wide, which was richly impregnated with gold. So elated were the shareholders on striking it, after working some three weeks in a shaft, they rushed into town and made merry for the rest of the day.'
    The New Zealand Herald 18 November 1868: 'The Marquis of Hasings is also engaged in puddling. They expect to have a parcel of ten tons ready for the machine next week. Numbers of beautiful specimens have been found, similar in appearance to those found in the Golden Crown in Shortland. Their workings are only about 18 or 20 feet from the surface - leading to the belief that a far richer deposit exists lower down, if the theory holds true that the gold has penetrated the quartz by sublimation.'
  5. Bank of New Zealand Claim
  6. The New Zealand Herald 28 November 1868: 'The Bank of New Zealand claim is situated on the northern boundary of the Marquis of Hastings claim. The upper surface workings disclosed a fine leader or vein, a portion of which was crushed some time ago and yielded a fair return. Since then they have been working on carrying on a drive from a very low level, and a shaft has also been sunk on it to a depth of 40 feet, in which the vein has considerably improved. A few few days ago, another parallel vein was discovered in the surface and from which some very good specimens were obtained.'
  7. Long & Party Claim

  8. Royal Oak Claim

  9. Valley of The Mint Claim

  10. Imperial Mint
  11. The New Zealand Herald 5 October 1868: 'The Imperial Mint has struck good payable gold. This claim adjoins the Tapu Mint, and there appears to be every probability of it being equally rich.'
    The New Zealand Herald 22 December 1868: 'The Imperial Mint claim is situated on the south side of the Tapu Mint. A well-built shaft has been put down to a depth of about 60 feet. At 45 feet from the surface, they have started driving northeast so as to cut the vein which was followed along in their upper drive and out of which excellent prospects were obtained. In about 20 feet further ahead, they expect to cut into it, the difference in level will be about 90 feet. They intend to follow along the course of the vein when they strike it, and also make straight for the point at which they expect to meet with the Tapu Mint vein.'
  12. Tapu Mint Claim
  13. The New Zealand Herald 22 September 1868: 'In the Tapu Mint, they started taking out another portion of their leader today. There is a great quantity of gold to be seen in the stuff which is expected to be much richer than their first lot that was crushed a few days ago. I saw a beautiful specimen which was taken out this morning. It was about as large as the first joint of your little finger, and was nearly all gold in the form of fine wire interwoven in a very unusual manner. This lead of gold is about 6 inches in width and dips to the eastward at an angle of about 45 degrees.'
    The New Zealand Herald 2 October 1868: 'A sad accident occurred at the Tapu Mint claim on the 21st September. The shareholders in this claim have been engaged in taking out a leader from a face cutting which goes right across the spur. This cutting is perpendicular on the lower side, and the leader is dipping at an angle of 45 degrees, so that in taking out the leader from the opposite side of the cutting, a considerable mass of stuff is left overhanging. This is kept up by means of props but is so hazardous a system of mining, as well as injurous to the after-working of the claim. It appears that as John Chamberlain, one of the shareholders, was engaged in taking out this leader, about half a ton of stuff fell on him, enclosing him about with the debris. His mates speedily came to his assistance, and found that the shock had entirely paralysed him, so that he could not use either his arms or his legs. His shoulders got a terrible bruising, and he appears also to have sustained some internal injury. Dr McLeod was speedily called in, but his treatment was considered anything but satisfactory by his mates. They placed him on board the 'Industry' to be taken to Auckland.'
    The New Zealand Herald 5 October 1868: 'The Tapu Mint washed from a dish of stuff on Thursday about a sixpenny tin matchbox full of gold.'
    The New Zealand Herald 7 October 1868: 'Today, I was shown the richest specimen of gold yet found in this district. It was a washing from 12 pounds of mullock from the famed Tapu Mint leader. This is separate from some fine specimens, several of which were very rich, the yield was 1oz 14dwt of fine flakey gold. It is, I understand, the intention of the shareholders to forward this specimen to D. J. O'Keefe, auctioneer of Shortland, in whose window readers will have an opportunity of inspecting it.
    I regret to have to state that the miner, John Chamberlain, who had an accident in the Tapu Mint cutting, died at Auckland Hospital on Sunday 27th September. He was transported from here by the cutter 'Industry'. It appears that his spine was injured in the fall of earth.'
    The New Zealand Herald 22 December 1868: 'There has not been much done at the Tapu Mint claim for some time because of the proposed almalgation with the Clyde. That arrangement has fallen through, and they have now gone to work again in proper style. Two winzes have been put down on their vein about 60 feet apart and to a depth of about 15 feet. They have followed the vein from one to the other and have taken out a large quantity of rich stuff. The average width of the vein is about 4 inches. The stone from the lowest part of the workings shows that the gold is running more through the stone than previously. Several very rich patches have been encountered while they were taking out the last portion of their leader. A large quantity of stuff is on hand waiting for crushing.'
  14. Clyde Claim
  15. The New Zealand Herald 22 September 1868: 'The Clyde claim is really the wonder of Tapu at present. Nothing has ever been found here to compare in richness with the stuff taken out this week. They have been getting the gold in handfuls. I made a call at the claim on my way up the creek this morning and was astonished at the quantity of gold which was to be seen in the loose mullocky stuff of which the leader is chiefly composed. The quartz is scattered through it in the form of nodules, and they have also large pieces of gold adhering to them. In some pieces, the gold may be seen to run into the stone. One of the great peculiarities of this leader is that the gold assumes the wiry form, one piece of this gold was found yesterday about one and a half inches in length. During the week, they have taken out about 4 cwt of specimens which will yield something astonishing.'
    The New Zealand Herald 18 November 1868: 'In the Clyde Claim, the vein that was uncovered in the surface cutting and which astonished everyone by its richness, has been touched again during the past week, at a depth of about 15 feet from the level of the face cutting. While on a visit to that claim on Saturday, I saw a dishful of stuff taken from this leader and washed, yielding about an ounce and a quarter of pure gold. Besides this, I am sure half as much, if not more was washed out of the dish (gold pan) with the stuff; because of the lightness and flatness of the gold, it could not be kept in the dish. Besides this, there was a great number of specimens. I really believe there was about 4 oz in that dish. I have seen nothing like it since the good old times in Bendigo. It is a great pity that a golden claim like this should be brought to such a pass that the only work now being done amounts to nothing more than shepherding. Numbers of persons who own interests in this claim reside in various places, and it is almost impossible to obtain the where-with-all from them to pay the men's wages. The late Manager, Mr D. Grove, was so disgusted with the annoyance to which he was subjected in collecting money to pay the men's wages that he threw up the appointment. He has had to pay the wages of some of the men out of his own pocket and has been without ever since. It is folly to think that a claim will be in good working condition if wages are not regularly paid.'
    The New Zealand Herald 18 November 1868: 'The Shannon, Clyde and Tapu Mint are being amalgated. It appears to be a very slow process in this instance, as since they set about it three weeks ago, scarcely anything at all has been done in any of them.'
    The New Zealand Herald 14 December 1868: 'A parcel of gold and quartz of unparallelled richness was received by Mr D. J. O'Keefe (auctioneer of Shortland) yesterday from the Clyde claim Tapu. The parcel weighed 25 troy ounces and was estimated to contain at least seven-eights of pure gold of a very rich quality. The parcel was washed out of the quartz taken from the leader at a depth of only 28 feet, and comprises flakes of pure gold, intermixed with quartz of a semi-crystallised and brown character. The fine rubble accompanying the quartz is thick with gold. (It was not alluvial gold, as was the rumour circulating in Auckland, but taken from the quartz reef 28 feet down.)'
    The New Zealand Herald 22 December 1868: 'The Clyde claim has come under new management during the past week. It is not now intended to amalgamated with either the Shannon or the Tapu Mint. Some of the stuff which was taken out last week was sent to Shortland and created a great sensation there. The vein is now being followed down with a winze, and the depth attained is about 40 feet. They intend to carry it down 60 or 80 feet. This will test the ground rapidly, and will do more in one month towards developing the resources of this claim than has been done since the claim was taken up. The large pile of rich stuff is enlarging. They do not expect to be able to get a turn at the crushing machine of Messrs Gibbons and Co before the beginning of next year.'
  16. Shannon Claim See the note under Clyde Claim.

  17. Royal Mint Claim: Claim registered 20 July 1868. Claimholders: 6 men's ground. John CORNISH, George CORNISH, W. BLAIR, William YOUNG, G. CANNON, F. TARDY.

  18. Young Australia Claim

  19. Golden Crown Claim

  20. D. J. O'Keefe & others lease: They had a lease of 12 acres, just above the township.

  21. The Lord Nelson Stamping Battery: The site of this stamping battery is shown on the Fisher Survey Plan in Figure 1 & 2. It was situated on the south bank of the Tapu Creek, just up from the township and close to the Tapu Mint claim.
  22. The New Zealand Herald 23 October 1868: 'The Lord Nelson machine commenced crushing last Saturday but the process is slow indeed. Some of the stuff coming from the machine is also very course.'

    Editor's note: This means that so far, the quartz is not being crushed sufficiently to extract the gold. The fineness of the tailings is controlled by the size of the gratings at the bottom of the stamping boxes. For more details on stamper battery operation at this time, see my book 'Goldrush to The Thames 1867-68.'

    The New Zealand Herald 31 October 1868: 'The Lord Nelson Company is working on road-making and crushing. A fine grating has been given to them by Gibbons and Co, and the work done by the machine is much more satisfactory.'

The Circular Ridge, Beginning from the Eastern (top) end and Working Westward Around it.

  1. Governor Hobson Claim: Claim registered 20 June 1868. Claimholders: 4 men's ground. William JAMIESON, William George McLAREN, John MOORE, Edward JAMIESON.
  2. The New Zealand Herald 21 October 1868: 'Mr R. Beck of Queen Street, Auckland, crushed 3lbs of stone taken from the Governor Hobson Claim, Tapu which yielded 2 dwts 6 gr of gold, being equal to 84 oz to the ton. Not a speck of gold was to be seen before it was crushed.'
    The New Zealand Herald 22 December 1868: 'The Governor Hobson claim, adjoining the Golden Spur and Golden Valley claims has started work again. A vein is being followed into the hill which appears to be a continuation of one of the Golden Point leaders. I was shown some stone yesterday which has been taken out of the casing of this vein. It is in large lumps and is mainly quartz but its specific gravity is about the same as rich copper ore. An assay proved that it contained gold in payable quantities. What the metal is to which it owes its great weight has not been ascertained.'
  3. Golden Spur Claim
  4. The New Zealand Herald 19 October 1868: 'The Golden Spur struck a leader in their shaft yesterday, with very good prospects in the dish (gold pan.)'
    The New Zealand Herald 22 December 1868: 'The Golden Spur claim: Sinking operations have ceased for now, and at a depth of 45 feet, they are driving to the eastward, and have cut into the vein which was passed in the shaft. Gold can be seen in the stone but the width of the vein has not yet been ascertained. They have also just cut into a fine-looking reef in the drive next to the shaft. This has not been cut through but is over three feet in thickness.'
  5. Hit and Miss Claim

  6. Montezzuma Claim:
  7. The New Zealand Herald 12 September 1868: 'The shareholders of the Montezzuma claim have taken fresh courage since the splendid find yesterday of their neighbours of the Golden Spur Claim, the bearings of whose leader appears to run into their claim. They have left, for the present, their former low-level drive, which has been carried a length of 130 feet, and in which, I am sorry to say, they did not find anything that could be considered payable at the present high price which is charged for crushing and carriage. The leader - which was found a short time (ago in the Golden Spur claim), and out of which some beautiful specimens were taken - is thought to be too narrow to pay, on account of the extreme hardness of the rock. They have now opened a fresh drive close to the Golden Spur boundary, and about a 40 feet lower level than the (previous) drive. They stand a very good chance of catching some of the rich leaders which have been found both above and below them, but which, after many months of hard and constant work, they have not succeeded in striking.'
  8. Yorkshireman's Country Claim
  9. The New Zealand Herald 5 October 1868: 'The Yorkshireman's Country Claim is again being worked. It is to be hoped that they will have better success in their search for Quin and Cashel's rich leaders than during their former occupancy of this claim. There is plenty of hard work before them, as the stone is very hard.'
  10. Perserverance aka Quin & Cashel's Claim: Claim registered 15 June 1868. Claimholders: 5 men's ground. Thomas QUINN, John CASHEL, Charles A. READ, John ELLISON, J. M. LENNOX, John FRANKLYN, J. BALLAN, H. A. MUNRO, Asher CASSELS.
  11. Daily Southern Cross 16 April 1868: 'During my short stay at Tapu, I observed that throughout the working hours, the town was deserted. Every man who could handle a pick and shovel was on his claim, and this too on Easter Monday, a holiday, when all claims were protected by the Warden. Messrs Quinn and Cashel hold their place in the front rank, and deservedly so. The gold on their claim is abundant, and likely to be permament. Mr Quinn is especially to be congratulated for his success. He is the holder of Miner's Right No 3, issued by Mr Mackay early last August; since then, I have known him to be indefatigable in hs endeavours to obtain a share of the gold got in the Karaka feild. After 6 months labour, he proceeded to the Tapu when he met with the success his perseverance entitled him to.
    There are cases where men have lived on tea and biscuits for months, and who were ultimately rewarded, while others were lucky enough to discover gold the first day they went out.
    As in Shortland, the (lack) of (quartz crushing) machinery is the general complaint. McIsaac's and Cashel's are the only two claims that have a Berdan. This hand-engine is very suitable for testing small parcels of quartz, and also for extracting gold from specimens, but large quantities must be crushed by steam-power. At present, there is a large quantity of quartz lying on the ground, which, if machinery were on the spot, could be converted into bullion.'
    The New Zealand Herald 12 September 1868: The Perseverance claim (formerly Quinn & Cashel's) are getting on first-rate with their work. The rock is still very hard, and therefore slow progress is being made. The main drive is now in about 50 feet but now a leader had been struck in that direction, the cross-drive is still following the leader, and some fine-looking stuff is being got out. Although it is rather shallow, it will doubtless be much better at a lower level. The shaft is now down about 20 feet, and preparations are being made to take out a quantity of their rich leader for crushing at Saunderson's machine, which is only a short distance below the claim. A new leader was found a few days (ago) in the Western side of the shaft (the main leader is on the western side). It is only an inch or so in thickness but the seam (composed) of solid quartz is thickly impregnated with gold, and its dip is perpenticular. They intend after getting out this lot of stuff for crushing, to commence a low-level drive about fifty feet below their present position. (Editor's note: They will start the new tunnel 50 feet down the hill below their present one, in the hope of meeting the same seam lower down where it is likely to be thicker than one inch wide they have higher up. They know the seam dips downwards perpendicularly, and so they can calculate where to start their new tunnel in order to intercept it further down.)
    Thomas Quinn MR #3
    Figure 7: The Goldminers' Database holds the key to finding out who the miners were and what they did on the goldfield. This is the result for a search of the database for Thomas Quinn's original Miner's Right #3 issued 8 August 1867, one week after the Thames Goldfield opened.
    Source:The Goldminers' Database
    Click to enlarge the photo.
    The New Zealand Herald 19 October 1868: 'The Perseverance claim, two men's ground, are now working on a solid body of stone in their drive in the shaft, with gold visible.'
  12. Dauntless Claim

  13. True Blue Claim: Claim registered 30 March 1869. Claimholders: 4 men's ground. Peter FERGUSON, David HENDERSON, Alexander NORMAN, Thomas MEIKLE, Irving MURRAY.

  14. Criterion Claim: Claim registered 1 October 1868. Claimholders: 4 men's ground. John HOWARD, George HOWARD, Thomas STOUT, George POPE.

  15. Golden Head & Shoulders Claim

  16. The New Zealand Herald 22 September 1868: 'In the Golden Head and Shoulders claim, another excellent leader has been struck this week. Some magnificent specimen was taken out this morning in which the gold runs in nearly solid veins from one end of the stone to the other.'
  17. Golden Horn Claim

  18. New York Claim: Claim registered 20 June 1868. Claimholders: Thomas ALLEN, Henry CLARK, Franz SCHERFF, Charles R. WALKER, E. L. BUCHOLZ, John MENZIES, W. BUCKLAND, Francis INNES, Albert WALKER, Nevil S. WALKER, J. WELLS.

  19. Evening Star Claim:
  20. The New Zealand Herald 12 September 1868: 'In the Evening Star Claim, they are still going on with the main low-level drive, which is bearing north-westerly, in the hope of soon cutting the leader (coming from their neighbours, the Half Moon Claim) in its course through their claim. The length of this drive is now about 160 feet, and the stone is becoming very hard. They are also putting down a shaft for the purpose of working the leaders which they have already found at a lower level still, and which will also act as a ventilator for their present main drive. Some of the stone which has been taken from their leaders has been tested and yields about 4 oz (of gold) to the ton (of quartz).'
  21. Eclipse Claim: Claim registered 1 October 1868. Claimholders: 2 men's ground. John RUSSELL, Bernard RYAN.

  22. Star of the South Claim
  23. The New Zealand Herald 12 September 1868: 'The Star of the South Claim is also progressing favourably. They are getting out a large quantity of fine looking stone, in which gold is often visible, and which resembles very much in appearance the stone in the Full Moon's leaders, one of which it undoubtedly is. However, as yet, no test has been made of it. A few days ago, some very good specimens were picked up at the boundary of this claim and the Star of the Evening. A good prospect was also washed from a dish (gold pan) of the surface stuff.'
  24. Star of the Evening Claim: Claim registered 20 June 1868.Claimholders: 8 men`s ground. John ALLENDER, Thomas PEACOCK, Thomas PHILIPSON, James CLARK, George B. OWEN, Walter WILSON, James C. DOULL, John BUCHANAN, James KILGOUR, William HAY, George W. HAWKSBY, William RATTRAY, John LILLEWALL.

The Ridges Up-river from the Circular Ridge.

Consisting of the Upper Part of the South Bank Goldfield, about one mile from the Tapu township and the Coast.

  1. Victoria Cross Claim: Claim registered 10 July 1868. Claimholders: 6 men's ground. John NICOLSON, Charles JACKSON, James SUTTON, Henry WATTS, Angus NICOLSON.

  2. Luck Is All Claim See the Fitzroy claim.

  3. Fitzroy Claim
  4. The New Zealand Herald 12 September 1868: The Fitzroy Claim is still in full working order. In the main low-level drive, the progress is slow in consequence of their having met with numbers of very hard boulders. The adjacent earth is also so shaky as to require timbering. They are now in about 40 feet, and have about 70 feet yet to go to reach their own boundary. In the low-level drive, on the western side of the claim, they are also about 40 feet in, and about 28 feet below their main drive on that side of the claim. On Thursday or Friday, they expect to cut into the leader which was followed in the (main drive which goes in about 140 feet). A fine lot of splendid-looking stuff has been taken out and is now stacked ready for crushing. This leader is bearing about 30 degrees to the west of south, and the dip is nearly perpendicular. The leader which has been followed for about the same distance in the main drive on the eastern side of the claim, is bearing about 30 degrees to the south of east, so that the two main leaders of this claim are running at nearly right angles to each other. The point of junction however is supposed to be on the Luck's All claim along their northern boundary. There is about 60 tons of quartz on this claim ready for crushing.'
  5. Brian Boru Claim: Claim registered 16 May 1868. Claimholders: 6 men's ground: James CURLETT, Thomas FLAHERTY (half working share), Walter McCAUL Senr., Walter McCAUL Junr., James MURRAY, H.B. CARROTHERS, Thomas WATTERS (half sleeping share.)
  6. The New Zealand Herald 12 September 1868: The Brian Boru claim is making very quick work of their low-level drive which has been commenced a few feet to the eastward of the eastern low level of the Fitzroy. They have been much more fortunate than their neighbours, as they have encountered very few boulders as yet, and the soil is sufficiently firm to stand without timbering for the present. They are now in a distance of 130 feet within their own ground. They expect to catch the leaders for which they are working in the next 40 feet. In the next low-level drive which is situated further to the eastward, considerable progress had also been made. They expect to catch the leader which was discovered in the shaft in about 40 feet. These drives are being carried on night and day. Some of the shareholders had a try at the shaft a day or two ago, to ascertain if they could work it yet but they found that they were not able to contend sucessfully against the water. However they brought up a number of very fine specimens from the leader which promises to turn out better than any other in this locality. However the low-level drive will soon prove it.'
  7. Summer Hill Claim

  8. Band of Hope Claim

  9. One Tree Hill Claim: Claim registered 18 June 1868. Claimholders: 7 men's ground. James J. MacKELVIE, James FARMER, William LITTLEJOHN, William THANE, David CROMBIE, John ANGUS, William DICK. See the Full Moon Claim for more information about this claim.
  10. The New Zealand Herald 28 November 1868: 'The One Tree Hill claim is protected at the moment, chiefly because of a lack of crushing machinery. If it was not for this lack, scarcely a single claim here would need protection. Few people can afford to hold out month after month unless a quantity of specimens are being found. Although we have a machine here in actual operation, it costs as much for some of the claims to get their stuff to it as it does for the crushing. And that is without the men's time being taken into consideration at all. Many people assert that protection is a great evil, and tends to retard the development of a gold field. So it would be also if protection was granted to a piece of ground newly occupied but when a claim has been worked for three months or more, (which is usually the case when protection is granted), then I think that it is only right that this favour should be granted to the miner. Otherwise he would be compelled to sacrifice an interest which might eventually provide him with a comfortable living for years. This would suit monopolists very well of course. If the by-laws were ammended so that two men could hold four men's ground until payable gold was struck, while their two sleeping partners contributed 1 per week, their protection would not be sought nor required, neither would miners need to dispose of half or quarter sleeping interests which have been in many instances, a source of much evil and annoyance on these goldfield.'
  11. Full Moon Claim: Claimholders: Claim registered 6 June 1868. 7 men's ground. John RYDER, John WADDOUPS, Henry WHELAN, William F. WILSON, James ROBINSON, John O'HAGAN, William STANLEY, William HARLING, William MELDRUM, John CUMMING, Joseph ABBOTT, Henry PEARSON.
  12. Daily Southern Cross 23 April 1868:'21 April: A gentleman from Tapu Creek informs us that a new rush took place at daylight yesterday morning, to a creek near the one known as the Bluenose Creek. A party of men slept on the ground, and commenced pegging off claims at daylight. The new ground opened on the previous Monday, known as the Full Moon Claim, was expected to turn out very satisfactorily.'

    Click to enlarge the photo.
    The New Zealand Herald 12 September 1868: 'In the Full Moon claim, they are daily increasing their already large piles of crushing stuff (quartz rock). The main low-level drive is now in a distance of about 90 feet but the quartz in the reef appears to be more in the form of streaks than it was a short distance back, leading to the supposition that the chief part of the reef had dipped in its course. They sunk a little on the leader in various parts of the drive, and succeeded in getting out numbers of as fine specimens as any they have yet met with. They are also engaged in following the upper leader, the course of which has altogether changed from where it has traced along the creek into the One Tree Hill claim where it enters bearing quite N.E. The course in the Full Moon however is nearly due south. Some very rich stuff has been taken from this leader, and I saw numbers of specimens of gold on some quartz which was still adhering to the walls at the entrance. I may mention that none of the shareholders or workmen were with me at the time. Still further up on the hill, in a southerly direction from this drive, is another drive which is being put in to catch a leader in its course to the Half Moon Claim.'
    The New Zealand Herald 12 September 1868: 'Quartz Crushing At Tapu. - A gentleman connected with the Full Moon claim, Tapu informs us that they had one ton of quartz taken randomly from their reef, which when crushed yielded 4 oz retorted (mercury) amalgam. It was thought that this yield was less than the appearance of the stone indicated. The manager brought a quantity of the tailings (from this crushing) to Auckland. These tailings were taken to Mr Smith, assayer to the Bank of New Zealand, and tests were made of three separate portions. For each test, the result was that the tailings contained gold at the rate of 13 oz to the ton. This claim has 170 tons of similar stone ready for crushing, on which but for this discovery, there would have been a loss of over 2000 ounces of gold.'

    Editor's note: In these days, the stamping batteries were all highly inefficient, with up to 50% of the gold going out with the tailings (and in the above case, about 80%). See my book 'Goldrush to The Thames 1867-68' for details about what the stamping batteries were doing to 'Save the Gold'.

    The New Zealand Herald 7 October 1868: 'The Full Moon claim had a ton crushed at Gibbon's machine, yielding 4 oz to the ton. There were several fine specimens left in the stamping box and a bag of their richer specimens, which it was their original intention to have included but in the end were not put through the machine. The shareholders of the Full Moon assert that there must have been a breakage in the grating, as in about three quarters of the tailings which they have sent to Shortland to be tested, the amalgam and pieces of quartz as large as peas were plainly visible. As this is the only machine we have on the ground at present, I trust the owners of the place, in their own interests and also for the prosperity of the place, will be able to show that such complaint is groundless, or the result of an accident. One word to the miners themselves, the quality of stone sent from the Full Moon is such that in order for the gold to be saved, it is absolutely necessary that the stone should be burnt before being sent to the machine. The Panama Route claim are acting on this, and, having sluiced 5 tons of stuff, are burning it before getting it crushed next week.'

    The Full Moon Gold Mining Company was registered on 16 October 1868. The manager was Samuel John Edmonds and the shareholders living at Tapu were James Bruce Morpeth (46 shares), John Pickering Prescott (32 shares) and William Brownhill (23 shares) with each share worth 10. The rest of the shareholders listed on Company registration notice above were spectulators and sleeping partners.

    The New Zealand Herald 23 October 1868: 'The Full Moon claim is at present working on the same leader as the Half Moon. This leader is now the whole width of the drive, from which exceedingly rich specimens are being taken out. They will shortly have a crushing of about 170 tons, which is confidently expected to yield an average of 7 oz to the ton.'
    The New Zealand Herald 27 November 1868: 'Gold testing: A small piece of stone from the Full Moon claim, Tapu was tested and yielded at the rate of over 90 oz per ton.'
    The New Zealand Herald 28 November 1868: 'The Full Moon claim: Considerable improvement is observable in the workings of this claim lately. The upper drive is being rapidly carried forward, though under great difficulties as portions of the strata are very wet and loose, and in other places very hard. When both these conditions are united, it is very difficult to make headway. The vein which is being followed in this drive, does not look as good as it did some time ago but they are hoping that it will improve when the solid strata is reached. They have also started a drive immediately above the old drive where the rich specimens were found some time ago. The vein is still nearly perpendicular and a quantity of excellent stuff has already been taken out, including numbers of specimens. They intend putting down a winze on this vein shortly, close to the entrance of the drive. If this project is carried out, it will lead to the rapid deveopment of this claim.'
    The New Zealand Herald 22 December 1868: 'On Friday morning, a serious accident occurred to a miner named Marshall in the Full Moon claim, resulting in a compound fracture of the leg a little above the ankle.'
  13. Half Moon Claim: Claim registered 16 July 1868. Claimholders: 4 men's ground. James CAREY, Thomas WAY, Edward JONES, William CARRUTHERS.
  14. New Zealand Herald 12 September 1868: 'The Half Moon claim consists of 4 men's ground in a triangular form, and has been taken up about six weeks. They are bounded by the Full Moon, Homeward Bound and Evening Star claims. They had the good fortune, after doing a little prospecting on the south side of the spur, to find a leader out-cropping on the boundary of the Full Moon claim on the northern side of the spur. They got a good prospect, and determined to set in just below. They drove in a southerly direction for about 70 feet, and then cut to the eastward, finding the leader in about 12 or 15 feet, and about 3 feet in width, dipping nearly perpendicular and bearing about 25 degrees to the west of south. They then continued their former course and are now in a distance of about 90 feet. They have already taken out a considerable quantity of the leader which they are now following. This leader is chiefly of a mullocky nature with a great quantity of loose quartz of various sizes, together with a quantity of soft as well as hard black stuff resembling plumbago (graphite) - whether it is that mineral or not I cannot say. (An excellent) prospect of good coarse gold can at all times be obtained from the mullock, and numbers of fine specimens can be picked out of the quartz. This stuff is estimated in rough to run 5 oz per ton. The shareholders intend to carry one ton or so to the machine in a short time, so as to get a proper estimate of its value. This leader is the most easily wrought in the locality - one man being able to get out with ease two tons a day. The course of this leader is also the best possible for them, as it is bearing directly for the apex of the triangle, which is their most southern point.'
    New Zealand Herald 19 October 1868: 'The Half Moon claim is again taking out some excellent samples of gold.'
    The New Zealand Herald 23 October 1868: 'The Half Moon adjoins the Full Moon claim. They also have had the good fortune to strike some very rich stone. I have seen some pieces over an inch in diameter, nearly solid gold. With the exception of the Golden Point and the Great Republic claims, these are the next richest specimens obtained from a leader here. The run is nearly due south and is nearly perpendicular, the width varies from one to two feet. They have got out about 40 tons of quartz for crushing in a very short time, on account of the ground being very easily worked. They are now having a parcel of 4 tons tested at Gibbons and Co's machine.'
    The New Zealand Herald 3 November 1868: 'We were shown yesterday some very excellent specimens of quartz taken from a fine leader in the Half Moon Claim, Tapu. This ground was taken up by a party of four men last July, and their efforts have been rewarded by the striking of the Full Moon leader, a claim adjoining the Half Moon. The party have made a drive of about 170 feet, and the leader recently struck promises to be immensely rich.'
    The New Zealand Herald 28 November 1868: 'The Half Moon claim is still continuing to turn out some very nice specimens. They have driven their old level on their south bounday where it appears to dip in its course. They have now begun to sink upon it inside the drive, and have reached a depth of 10 feet. The vein is still found to be perpendicular, and the gold seen in the stone obtained at this depth can be distinguished by its brighter colour. The vein has also widened from 1 foot in thickness in the drive to two feet at the bottom of the shaft. They are now somewhat troubled by water but will be considerably relieved in a short time as the upper drive from the Full Moon claim is being carried towards them at a much lower level, with the intention of cutting this vein as it enters their ground. They have a very large quantity of stuff stacked ready for crushing, and are anxiously awaiting the completion of the United Engineers' crushing machine.'
  15. Homeward Bound Claim

  16. Golden Cross Claim: Claim registered 18 June 1868. Claimholders: Henry FUGATE, R. ARMSTRONG, J. E. DODD, P. S. MacKENZIE, James Alexander POUD, George CLOTWORTHY, James HAMMOND, Andrew McMATH, Warwick WESTON.

The Upper South Bank of the Tapu Creek

There was another separate goldfield about 4 miles up the Tapu Creek, where the steep ranges open out into a valley, just before the road begins to climb up to Coroglen.

  1. Black Swan aka The Prospector's Claim
  2. New Zealand Herald 5 October 1868: 'The Black Swan Claim is situated about 4 miles up the creek, and known as 'The Prospectors'. They have driven about 110 feet and struck an excellent leader, or reef, in which a considerable quantuty of gold is distinctly visible. I have seen splendid specimens from there, in which gold assumes a different form to any other I have seen here. Several claims have been marked out in this locality during the week, in addition to those that were taken up during a rush a few weeks ago, when they first found gold.'
    New Zealand Herald 7 October 1868: 'A prospecting party, backed by storekeepers and others, have been working for the last 3 weeks some five miles up the main creek. Encouraged by getting a good prospect on the surface, they commenced a drive, and last evening, when in about sixty feet, and at about 30 feet from the surface, they struck the cap of a reef. Working on it today, they got some fine specimens, the gold lying like bars in the quartz. The claim is called the Black Swan and gives promise of being an exceedingly rich one, and profitable to the enterprising shareholders. This discovery is particularly encouraging as it confirms the idea long entertained by many here that good gold was to be found further back in the ranges.'

The Mahara Royal Mine

There was one main auriferous reef, the Mahara Royal which was on the southern bank of the Tapu Creek. They had a stamping battery on the flat in 1898.

Mahara Royal Battery
Figure 8: The Mahara Royal Stamping Battery, south bank of the upper Tapu Creek 1890-98.
Photographed by Foy Brothers, Thames. From Auckland Weekly News 9 July 1898.
Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections,
Auckland Libraries, AWNS-18980709-3-2
Click to enlarge the photo.
Tramway and Shoot for Maraha Royal Battery
Figure 9: The tramway and shoot to bring ore down from the Mahara Royal Mine to their Stamping Battery.
From Auckland Weekly News 9 July 1898.
Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections,
Auckland Libraries, AWNS-18980709-2-3
Click to enlarge the photo.
From The New Zealand Geological Survey, Bulletin 10, by Colin Fraser 1910:

'The Mahara Royal Claim was worked by an English Company from 1897 - 1902 and by an Auckland Company from 1903 to 1907. Statistics show that a total of 12,910 tons of ore were mined and milled for returns valued at 16,769, meaning this would not have been a very profitable enterprise. The mill consisted of a rock-breaker, twenty stamps and twelve berdans and was driven by water-power. The claim was worked to the lowest level practicable by adits, and the ore obtained from a vein varying from 1 foot to 8 feet in width, and to a much lesser extent, from branching leaders. Small pockets of bonanza ore were occasionally encountered in the principal vein as well as in the smaller branches. The workings are now inaccessible but according to the mine-plan, the usual quartz-filled vein fissures eventually changed to clay in the northern end of the workings. The block of vein-quartz was 400 feet in length and was shown as stoped between No 4 and No 5 levels. Because of the poor returns, there was no capital available for exploration below the level of this adit (with shafts), and the claim was abandoned.

'The Tapu Valley above the Mahara Royal, by the nature of the rocks, is never likely to yield quartz rocks of payable character.'

The Four Main Quartz Reefs of the Tapu Goldfield

New Zealand Herald 7 October 1868: 'We now have four gold-bearing lines discovered at Tapu, all tending seawards. The line on the Tapu Mint leader, which would come out about a mile and a half along the beach; beyond these we have the line of Golden Point, the Golden Spur etc; then Mr Isaac's line which includes the Panama Route, Bluenose and others. Lastly we have the latest discovered at Black Swan, the bearings of which will give a continuous line from here to Shortland (Thames).'

There is a lot more information about the early history of the Tapu Goldfield, its miners and their claims to be found in the The Goldminers' Database: a freely available fully searchable online database of the Goldminers of New Zealand, as well in the accompanying book, 'Goldrush To The Thames, New Zealand 1867 - 1868' by Kae Lewis. Parawai Press 2017.


THE TAPU GOLDIFELD 1867-68: Part I: The First Few Months.

THE TAPU GOLDIFELD 1867-68: Part II: North of Tapu Creek.

THE TAPU GOLDIFELD 1867-68: Part IV: South of Tapu Creek.

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