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[New Zealand] Jewelry Attractions

I am planning a trip to New Zealand, leaving on November 1st for
a one month RV tour of the country. Would appreciate any tips
on places to visit, where to hunt for rocks and gems if
available, and any precious/semi-precious stone dealers or rock
and gem stores. I’ve never been there before, so would
appreciate any you can provide.

Thanks in advance, Kelly

I am planning a trip to New Zealand, leaving on November 1st for
a one month  RV tour of the country.  

G’day Kelly; Providing the weather is kind to you, you will be most
reluctant to go home at the end of your trip; You’ll love the place!
Whilst we don’t speak American, we do talk an understandable version
of English, and we gave up eating people quite a while ago.

On a more serious note, you will find very little here in the way of
jewellery places to visit. There is a very large place (used to be a
dairy factory) at the base of the Coromandel Peninsular - an hour or
two’s drive from Auckland - which has an enormous amount and variety
of rough gemstone material - but nearly all of it is imported. The
address is:- Wilderness Gems, 3 River Road, PO Box 87, NGATEA.
Phone(07) 867 7417 Fax (07) 867 7884 They have quite a bit of jade
(popularly called greenstone (pounamu) here) but it all comes from
Hokitika on the West Coast of the South Island. Last time I was
there (admittedly several years ago) the quality of their jade was
poor; one had to really search for decent stuff. They are very
pleasant people, however; they’d probably even put you on to other
gem places you could visit.

There is some agate in the Coromandel, but nothing spectacular, and
there is a working open cast gold mine not far away from there; the
Martha Mine. I don’t know whether they accept visitors though; I
doubt it. There is some obsidian around Lake Taupo, but again, not
spectacular and difficult to find.

There is, as I have said, jade on the West Coast of the South Island,
not actually in the little town of Hokitika, though that is where the
carving and shaping factories are; they welcome visitors literally by
the bus load! They even invite one to walk around and talk to the
workpeople (buttonhole one and heshe will teach you how to polish it)
and watch the 4 & 5 foot diamond saws cutting the jade boulders.
And, of course, buy the jade artefacts, though they do have bins of
waste material which they let you fossick around and select priced
pieces. I have had one or two very nice pieces from their waste bins.
There is the occasional piece of worn jade to be picked up off the
beach close to the mouth of the Arahura River near Hokitika, but it is
usually cracked and battered from it’s journey over the boulders in
the headwaters, and scarcely worth the bother.

There is quite a bit of gold left in the lower part of the South
Island, and you can pan for it in several rivers and streams in
Central Otago. But you’ll find little more than ‘colours’. Most of
it went in the late 1800’s. They say the Shotover River in
Queenstown was the richest river in the world, and umpteen dredges
went up and down many times, removing many tons of the stuff - and
there is still the occasional tiny nugget to be found - I have two the
size of a grain of rice from the Shotover! But the country all
around there has to be seen to be believed - wildly beautiful. There
is also jet boating, river rafting, and even bunjy jumping off the
Shotover Bridge; a very long drop.

I reckon your best trick is to contact travel shops in your own area,
tell them you want info on NZ - and you’ll get inundated with
pamphlets! Then when you have a general ‘feel’ for the place, give
me a shout if you would like my 5? worth. When you get here, you
will find that every town has an Information Centre, run by local
volunteers, signposted by a large lower case ‘i’ and they will tell
you anything you want to know - with no charge.

You will find the pace of life here is far easier than what you are
probably used to; (most American visitors remark about that!) and
other than in the bigger cities like Auckland, many shopkeepers and
salesfolk will happily spare time for a brief chat. In fact outside
the cities, if you walk in parks, and so on, practically everyone you
pass will smile, nod, or say ‘lovely day’ or something.

Perhaps I should end by saying we emigrated from England in 1957. And
have never regretted it for a moment; I reckon I’m a Kiwi’ now!
Cheers and happy travelling, PS - What’s an ‘RV tour’? – John
Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ


I’m back with more ideas.

I’ve contacted to Auckland Geological and Lapidary Society (Dale
MacIndie at +64 9 576 4721) and she informs me that there are 27 such
clubs throughout New Zealand, and what she suggests is you contact
some of these clubs and try to arrange to go out on a field trip.

When I get the list of contacts I’ll post them here, or emaiol them
directly to you. Unfortch, it seems that email facilities are still at
the embryonic stage with members of the Geological and Lapidary
Society. It may an airmail job. That takes 7 days from USA to here.

But certainly getting in on a planned group field trip would be way
better than hunting around yourselves haphazardly on what might turn
out to be private property.


B r i a n ? A d a m a n d R u t h B a i r d

Hello John,

I visit NZ like I already wrote in an other e-mail about this
subject.I did not like NZ thatmuch, but … I beleive that better
wether conditions whould had made our trip more pleasing.There was a
river somewhere near to a big gletsjer (about 30 km from the gletsjer
away) where we first panned for gold.Somekind of little flies (few
millimeters size)bite us like little devils.The owner of the claim
told us to use repellent but this was somekind of sauce for those
little bastards (hated them).Hokitika was nice to see as you
explained in your e-mail.The Shotover river was wild !!! Loved that
tour with those special boats.We had more rain during the five weeks
we spend there then nice wether.To be more specific,we had 6 (six)
days of nice wether and on one of those days we went to visit Milford
sound.Then the tourguide told us that the sound wasn’t that great
because of the sunny day and low water level.I could of killed the
guy !!!

Regards Pedro

Hello Kelly,

I’ve been thee a few years ago.Spend five weeks travvelling around
from north to south passing “Windy Wellington”.As far as I received
about NZ,they do not have many gemstones (correct me if
I’m wrong John !!).Nevertheless,they have a enormous source of jade
in One particular place.Due to this jade,if seen undiscribable pieces
of handcarft jade and believe me these words are not overdone.Other
then jade,I found a gy from the Netherlands who first lived in
Australia and then moved to NZ.He had a big collection of “emerald
jade” and “Ruby jade” as he called it.I beleive it was all zoisite.He
told me that this came from NZ aswell beeing left overs from
goldminers who found this stone by accident but didn’t pay attention
to it.further they have all kinds of paua shell and very nice jewelry
is made out of it.If you have the chance to pass A city called
"Arrowtown",please take the chance and try your luck on finding some
gold in the Arrowriver which is next to it.Walk a little bit upstream
untill you find somekind of little island and look for the black sand
(irron sulfides).Always collect dirt on the inside of a curve.I
didn’t found much with my pan due to the very bad wether
conditions.The wind literaly blow the water out of my pan and the
snow was freezing my hands in early spring.However the kind of gold I
found where little amounts small,flat gold pellets.People told me
that the native gold of NZ is the purest of the world.Good luck.

Regards Pedro

Hi Kelly, there is a Lapidary magazine published in Australia called
Metal Stone & Glass, all NZ and Australian Clubs/shows are published
in Novembre they write up minerals, fossils, gems fossicking places
etc. in Australia and it is availabe from . Anna Margot

Dear Kelly, I’ve been following this thread about New Zealand and have
been waiting to hear from someone about the realities of New Zealand
jade. Since those of us who might go there would naturally be
attracted to the much ballyhooed “Greenstone” it is unfortunate, but
true that most of the beautiful Maori style Jade baubles that are
sold to the tourists are actually British Columbia Nephrite Jade
which has been carved in China. This has been going on since the late
forties. This is not to say that there are not also items made from
the local Jade…merely that much, if not most of the small jewelry
cavings are not indigenous. No matter; their beautiful Maori motifs
and the rich green of the B.C.Jade are excellent values even if they
might be fudged as local.(My apologies to J.B. in Mapua; New Zealand
is the most beautiful country in the world and I am sure that the
average New Zealander is well above average when it comes to
integrity, but merchants who cater tourists give tourists what they
want and, if there isn’t enough local Jade to go around they are,at
least, giving them a beautiful symbol !) Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos,

I’ve sent Kelly a full list of NZ clubs (about 25) but this is what
seems to be a main address:

National Association of New Zealand Rock & Mineral Clubs Secretary:
Anna Smillie 18A Ashmore Drive New Plymouth Ph/Fax 06 753 4129 email:


B r i a n ? A d a m
E y e g l a s s e s
O t h e r J e w e l l e r y

Hi Anna-Margot, I’m sorry I have been so tardy in answering to thank
you for the you have so kindly provided me. I have look
in our Lapidary Journal magazine published over here. I found in the
International Show Dates several shows for Australia but none for New
Zealand. I do appreciate your input and will look into getting a copy
of the magazine you mentioned. Thanks again for your help.

Sincerely, Kelly Van Vleck

Canterbury Mineral and Lapidary Club

The Canterbury Mineral and Lapidary Club was founded in November
1964 and is based in Christchurch, New Zealand. The aims of the club
are to bring people together who are interested in geology,
mineralogy and lapidary work in all its aspects, for mutual enjoyment
and education. In particular the study of fossils and
minerals and the preparation, setting and display of these.


The club is affiliated to the National Association of New Zealand
Rock and Mineral Clubs Incorporated, which has a network of around 28
clubs throughout New Zealand. There is a regular interchange of news
on events and happenings.