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Cardrona Strikes Gold!

A gold nugget has been discovered at Cardrona Alpine Resort, between Queenstown & Wanaka, during the construction of New Zealand’s first cabin-style lift on a ski area – the McDougall’s Express Chondola.

The nugget weighs 3.1kg – the heaviest gold nugget ever found in New Zealand, breaking a record that has stood since 1909 when Messers Scott & Sharpe found a 3.09kg nugget on the West Coast.

She's a pretty big one - the heaviest found in NZ history!

Gold is currently priced at NZD$1746.25 per oz, valuing this nugget at around NZD$190,000. 

The Chondola construction was halted late Thursday afternoon, when Cardrona staff member Dave Collett discovered the gold nugget when operating a digger.

“I was helping the boys dig the trench up to the top of the new lift & saw the shimmer. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve worked here for 25 years & never seen anything like this,” says Collett.

Dave Collett proudly showing the gold nugget he found at Cardrona

Staff remain sceptical that there is more gold to be found on the mountain, deciding to continue with their winter season preparations instead of mining the alpine resort. Despite the delay from the discovery, the Chondola construction project is running ahead of schedule.

“Even if there is more up here, the real gold at Cardrona is our people,” says Cardrona’s General Manager, Bridget Legnavsky.

“We wouldn’t trade them in for all the gold in the world.”

The Central Otago Gold Rush in the 1860s was the last time any significant gold was found in the Cardrona Valley. The Rush made Cardrona a bustling town, which deteriorated as gold dried up.

To this day, gold mining references are still found on Cardrona Alpine Resort. Whitestar Express is named after a mining dredge, McDougall’s Chondola is named after the proprietor of the General Store in the 1800s, & Gin & Raspberry (a ski run) was the drink shouted by a mine owner when an ounce of gold was yielded.

So what will the money be spent on? No doubt it will go towards the resort’s developments. But first? A round of Gin & Raspberry.

Published: April 1, 2017

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