Gold miners make it to Birthday Reef on the West Coast, one of New Zealand's richest seams

It's been 160 years since the West Coast was first gripped by a gold rush, but the sought-after metal is once again causing a stir. 

One of the country's richest seams has been reached in the former gold mining town of Waiuta, promising jobs for the next decade. 

Deep under the ground, more than 70 years since it was first worked, miners have made it to the Birthday Reef - one of the richest seams in the country.

Simon Delander of Federation Mining said: "To be able to find the bottom of the Blackwater Mine and pick that reef up again is pretty impressive."

Federation Mining first found gold at Reefton's Snowy River mine, below the old Blackwater Mine near the now abandoned Waiuta township, last year.

But striking the reef is a major milestone. 

"We know there's over 700,000 ounces of gold there which is really exciting. We need to build a processing plant and that would go up on the surface," Delander said.

"What that would mean for the coast is another 100 jobs we would need to bring onto site."

That's in addition to the 60 jobs already there. 

Federation Mining will eventually be recruiting, and those interested may not need to be an experienced miner. As with some of the current staff, some people may be trained up. 

Several other mining companies are also setting up on the coast. 

"The gold mining industry is having another gold rush, gold prices are really high so there's a lot of exploration going on, investment coming in," Development West Coast CEO Heath Milne said. 

Miners aren't the only ones fizzing, though.

The shiny metal is also enticing tourists. 

Milne said the tourism sector has come back better than ever, attributing part of it to the gold. 

"We have got overall less people coming but they are doing more, spending more, and staying longer and that's absolutely what we want." 

Delander added that "there's a bit of fever around the mining and we're pleased to be a part of that".

So, there are no plans to slow any time soon. 

An estimated extraction rate of up to 70,000 ounces a year means Snowy River will be operating for at least the next decade.