Hobby or recreational gold mining permits

Find out what a hobby or recreational gold mining permit is and how to apply for one.

New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals (NZP&M) issues specific permits for hobby or recreational gold mining.

Hobby or recreational gold mining is a small-scale gold mining operation that falls into 1 of 2 categories:

  • Mining for alluvial gold contained in riverbeds, or
  • Mining for gold contained in beach sand.

In some areas of the South Island you don’t need a permit to fossick for gold.

Find out more about gold fossicking

If your proposed mining operation does not fit into either of the hobby categories above, you are unlikely to be granted a permit for hobby or recreational purposes.

If you intend to use heavy machinery, such as excavators, your application falls outside of scope for a hobby permit. You may be able to apply for a different type of Tier 2 mining permit instead.

Permits for hobby mining are limited to the use of small-scale mining equipment. This includes:

  • Gold pan
  • Sluice box
  • Riffle box
  • Small, motorised pump
  • Hand tools (shovels, picks, etc)
  • One or more suction dredges with a combined engine rating of no more than 10 horsepower.

Area and duration

Ordinarily, a hobby mining permit will be for one unbroken area of less than 50 hectares.

The duration of a hobby mining permit will ordinarily be considered for no longer than 10 years.


The application fee for a hobby mining permit is $5,750 including GST. You need to pay the full amount when you submit your application.

The annual fee for a hobby mining permit is $1,150 including GST. The annual fee is paid in advance each year and is payable from the grant date of your application.


If you are granted a hobby mining permit, there are some annual reporting and fee-paying obligations that you will need to meet. Failure to comply with your reporting and fee-paying obligations could result in your permit being revoked.

How to apply

You need to provide a completed application form and supporting information.

Compile and complete the supporting information template

Your application may be delayed or rejected if you don’t provide all the information needed to support your application. We have created a supporting information template to help you. The notes under each heading give guidance, tips, and reminders of what you need to provide.

Fill out the hobby or recreational gold mining supporting information template [DOCX 785KB]

Attach this template to your online application, or email it to us.

Fill out your application form online or email it into us

Apply online using the online permitting system. You will need a RealMe login to use the system. You can save your application as you go and come back to it at any time.

Online permitting system

Or complete a new permit application form (App-01) and email it to us at nzpam@mbie.govt.nz.

Download new permit application form [PDF 353KB]

Last updated:
Find this helpful? Give us your feedback