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Jonahan Hare's Diary

Day 25: Rest Day

Black Sands and Hippy Trails

Rough Scientists on black sand beachPippa, Ellen, Kathy, Kate , Sophie and I go to see Peter, a man who lives on his own on his gold patch by the sea. Peter is a 50-60 year old Hippie and has plans of using his gold prospecting machine he was building to pay for a green community he has been dreaming of. He had a lot of experience gold prospecting in Alaska and other parts of the USA and now lives on the West coast of NZ.

The sand on the beaches here is very dark and very heavy. A bucket of the sand is noticeably heavy. What's more important, and the reason for our trip, is that the sands also contain a lot of gold. The gold is very fine and because the sand is heavy and the gold mixed in, it is very difficult to separate in a cost effective way. Consequently, even though there is a lot of gold, not too many people are actually trying to get the precious stuff out commercially.

Often stormy weather will bring in waves that drop gold in bands (lens shaped) at the tide mark and these are interesting as they have a much greater amount of gold in them. It's like a large natural panning effect accumulating gold. Peter estimates that 2000 tonnes of the sand will yield 2 oz of gold. So you need a system that can plough through a lot of material to make a commercial success of it all.

We spend the morning with Peter and he showed us his previous and latest inventions and was very hospitable.

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Photo: Jonathan Hare
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