New Zealand’s own Gold Rush

The gold rush in New Zealand is referred to as the Otago Gold Rush. This took place in the 1860s and it was the biggest gold strike in the country. As a result, many foreign miners came to the area and some of them had worked on other big gold strikes in places such as California and Australia.

While the rush started at a place called Gabriel’s Gully, it spread throughout the Central Otago region, leading to the development of the then very small settlement of Dunedin. It rapidly became one of the largest cities in New Zealand. People abandoned the smaller settlements to move to Dunedin.

The Maori people knew that there was gold in the Central Otago region but they had no interest in it as they had no use for it. Europeans did find some small quantities of gold near to the town of Palmerston in the 1850s but the size of the find did not attract miners.

Gabriel Read was an Australian who had mined for gold in many places before. He found evidence of gold in 1861 in a creek bed at a place now known as Gabriel’s Gully. This is close to the town of Lawrence. He published a letter about his find, although the rush did not start straight away until it was confirmed that he and a local council member had surveyed various points in the region and found gold almost everywhere.

Within a few months there were 14,000 prospectors in the area and further goldfields were discovered, most named after the prospector that discovered them. Most were abandoned by the prospectors by 1863, but companies continued to mine in the area.