River of gold: Marlborough mining claim, with hut, up for grabs for $75000 – New Zealand Herald

Wakamarina River was once considered one of the richest in the world for gold. Photo / Trade Me

A licence for a remote gold mining claim located at the tip of the South Island has been listed for sale on Trade Me for a starting price of $75,000.

The mining licence comes with a hut and 5km of river located in Marlborough – most of which has not been worked on for more than 100 years, according to the listing.

Wakamarina River, where the hut is located, was considered the fourth richest river in the world in the 1860s based on its size. During the gold rush it was swarmed by miners panning for the precious metal, which eventually spread to the West Coast.

Today there are several mining licences for the Wakamarina River.


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“[The river] is now patchy because of the gold rushes of 155 years ago; however, rich crevices are still being discovered [we have found a few] and it contains heavy nuggets,” the listing description reads.

The gold nugget pictured was found on the boundary of the area for sale around three summers ago.

The licence expires in January 2026 and owner Paul Bensemann said he is looking for a 50/50 partner to share ownership with.

Bensemann said he last found gold in the river on Saturday, though it was only “one little piece”.

“It’s more of a hobby claim, this is not a big business. You can find big nuggets up there but it’s not something that happens every day.”

A nugget of gold found in the Wakamarina River. Photo / Trade Me

Bensemann is also selling a mining licence to a smaller portion of the river, listed for a starting price of $40,000.

According to the Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966, gold was first found in the Wakamarina River in 1864. Around that time 778kg of gold was panned.

Following the first prospectors discovering gold just weeks later there were around 4000 miners, mostly Australians, working on the river.


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The Wakamarina River hut included in the sale of the mining licence. Photo / Trade Me

A spokeswoman for Trade Me said the mining licence had previously been up for sale in 2010. That’s when Bensemann found his current partner.

“I’m very, very reluctant to sell this claim. I went up their with my dad when I was a toddler and I’ve been going up that river all my life,” said Bensemann.

Bensemann was previously looking to sell the entire mining claim, however he has since decided to look for joint-owner.

Gold found in the Wakamarina River. Photo / Trade Me

His portion of the river does not have road access – one of the reasons Bensemann believes there is still gold there.

“It’s all in native bush… and it’s an absolutely beautiful area.”