Private Gold Panning Heli Experience (exclusive access)


4 hours (approx.)


On request


Accommodation transfers, private helicopter, gourmet lunch, refreshments and private gold mining guide


Year round (depending on snow levels)


Turn your find into jewellery $POA

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Step back in time on this pioneering adventure

Take the opportunity to discover a unique part of New Zealand's history through the eyes of those who are still living in and amongst our iconic Gold Rush.

Your day will begin at your accomodation where you will be met by Justin Eden, your private guide and owner of Arrowtown's famed Gold Shop. An experienced gold panner and jewellery maker in his own right, he will collect you in a luxury vehicle and you take you to Queenstown Airport, where you will all depart by private helicopter for an unforgettable flight into the heart of the South Island's gold country.

The scenic flight will take you over land steeped in history to Skippers Canyon; a place where one of the largest gold rushes in Central Otago began back in 1862. Home to Skippers Creek and a historic 22km long gorge, the creek flows into what's been called the richest gold-bearing river in the world; the mighty Shotover.

You’ll hear tales of how miners and prospectors flocked to the region in those days and how life was for early those early settlers. Justin will also discuss his own history in the region, having first registered a private claim in 1979 before mining it for several years in the early 1980’s. He lived in a restored 1930s miner's hut that was built around 1930 at the time of the Great Depression; and he can show you the parts of his claim that still carry remnants of those early days.

It’s one of the more remote mining claims in the area at about 3000 feet above sea level, accessible only by a four-hour hike or a short flight from Queenstown airport. You’ll land right at the river’s edge, or outside the hut, and enjoy a beautiful picnic lunch and a glass of Central Otago wine.

The creek is reasonably shallow and Justin will demonstrate how easy it is for even a novice gold panner to pan for gold in the crystal clear water. This area is still so rich in gold that we can almost guarantee you'll find a treasure for yourself.

As the ultimate take-home memento, there’s an option to have any gold you find made into jewellery of your choice. And following the conclusion of this experience you'll be flown back to Queenstown to continue your travels.

While this itinerary takes you on a historic, informative and educational journey into our past, it is absolutely up for grabs. We encourage you to take this day by the horns and let us know if there's anything missing from making this day one to truly remember. Simply contact us and our local guides will arrange everything for you. It's what we do best.

Gold found
Gold found
Gold panning
Gold panning

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Our Dream Wedding

From very first contact with Lee, I knew I had FINALLY found what I was looking for. Planning an overseas wedding proved difficult with all correspondence via email. I was about to give up! Then I was recommended Alpine Luxury Tours! We chose to have a 5 hr private tour as apart of our wedding day. Our tour was well thought out, the experience made our wedding extra special and definitely memorable. All our guest had an incredible day. No matter what your occasion, Alpine Luxury Tours will make your trip extra special. We cannot wait to go back!!

Great coordination, highly flexible, travel in comfort

We actually had multiple days with Alpine Luxury Tours. Jamie was our driver/host on all 3 days. We were a small group so it was very easy to discuss our destinations. We did the wine tour (slight changes due to the weather), Tasman glacier hike/helo ride, and Dart river jetboat ride/Arrowtown tour. Separate reviews were done for those specific events. Alpine Luxury Tours provided us with lunch for certain events, transport to/ from activities and narration along our routes. Many thanks to Jamie who made our vacation a truly memorable visit.

Simply Spectacular

Such stunning scenery at Middle Earth!!! What a spectacular place to visit, the Middle Earth waterfalls is one of New Zealand's best things to do! The glacier, waterfalls, alpine flowers/moss all add up to make this not only a unique experience, but was quite awe inspiring too. Lee was amazing to deal with, going out of his way to ensure that we could go on this helicopter flight..... firstly cancelled due to Covid in March 2020, and then due to weather. An amazing experience shared with family. Would absolutely recommend this fantastic opportunity to you all.

A magic 48hrs

Fantastic! Lee is an absolute pro, every detail is taken care of and you are guaranteed a super comfortable, enjoyable experience. You can tell he's a local and really loves the area, his insider knowledge adds value to the trip and helped ensure we made the most of every moment. And to top it off he's a bloody good bloke! I'll be on the phone to book him in again if I'm lucky enough to spend more time in Central Otago.

Stuart M