Gold fever returns to the West Coast

The West Coast of the South Island is dealing with a different type of fever: Gold fever is spreading as the price of the precious metal increases and an Aussie TV show ramps up interest.  

There wouldn't be many 15-year-olds who can pull a pot of gold out of their pocket and say they found it themselves, but Dillon Thom is one of them.

"Our best trip so far I think was 8.6 grams, which is currently worth around $600 or $700," he told Newshub.

"Gold mining's great. It's addictive - nothing else really compares once you start, there's no going back. It's a great thing to get into, but I will warn you once you start: It's hard to stop."

Thom is one of many who caught the bug after watching Aussie Gold Hunters. Now popular spots on the West Coast are becoming swamped by people searching for the precious metal.  

"I remember we'd go to the public sites that were most popular and there'd be no one else there, now you're there and it's bumper-to-bumper, cars everywhere, miners all up and down the river shoulder-to-shoulder," said Thom.

Dan Gerber has been teaching hobbyists how to pan for gold for the last three decades and now his business selling equipment has never been busier.

"It's a real fever and a real virus and you can't go to the pharmacy to get the medication for it, you just have to live it," he said.

The price of gold has also gone up. 

In January last year gold was $2254 per ounce, at the same time this year it was $2642 per ounce. 

There are 19 areas in the South Island where recreational miners can fossick for gold without a permit.

Gold is a Crown-owned mineral and permits are required if people want to prospect, explore or mine for gold outside designated gold fossicking areas.