The first reports of New Zealand gold came in the 1830s when settlers near the entrance of Coromandel Harbour discovered the metal on Beesons Island. This discovery, though, attracted little interest and it was not until a larger discovery at Collingwood-Takaka in 1856, and then the Otago strike in 1861, that New Zealand truly found its place on the 19th Century gold mining map.
Although some New Zealand gold was located in hard rock and required significant processing, much of it, particularly in the South Island, was found in river gravel. This alluvial, or placer, gold was what individual gold miners flocked to the country for. All a man needed for a chance at fairytale wealth was a pick, a shovel and a gold pan.