Private Gold Panning Heli Experience (exclusive access)


4 hours (approx.)


On request


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

Available :

Year round (depending on snow levels)


Turn your find into jewellery

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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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Wow!!! What an outstanding day

We have fallen in love with Queenstown after this tour. Lee is so knowledgeable and passionate about the area and adding his passion for gold mining and vast historical knowledge of the area we had an unbelievable personal Queenstown experience. We drove down into Skippers canyon and were surprised with a delicious morning tea at the school house. This was followed by panning for gold at deep creek and a stone skimming competition. Both Lee and Paul were so amazing with our young children (both pre school) that this was their highlight (as well as ours) of the trip. Highly recommend Alpine Luxury Tours to anyone. AMAZING........

Incredible Service and Great People

We spent a week in Queenstown using Lee and Alpine Luxury Tours to book several outings: two hikes (one on the famous Routeburn trail) one helicopter day trip to Milford sound with lunch, and an afternoon of wine tasting. Lee was friendly, professional and accessible at every stage of the trip, particularly as weather changes called for flexibility in our itinerary with the helicopter tour and also to change a planned hike on a particularly rainy day to a driving tour of Wanaka. On the walking days we were guided by the delightful and knowledgeable Lisa who shared so much about the flora, fauna, history, culture and adventure sports in the Queenstown area. Lee personally guided us on the wine tour and his deep local relationships and great knowledge of the region and local wines made for a fun, informative, and indulgent afternoon. The heli tour to Milford Sound with Craig was a highlight - memorable views and a picnic lunch in an unbelievably scenic spot - waterfalls, snow-capped peaks, a delicious wine and sandwiches — we didn’t want to leave. Highly recommend choosing Alpine luxury tours.

Milford Sound Private Tour 10 Pax

Excellent!!! The communication with Lee on this booking for 10 of us was prompt and informative. Our driver/guide, Rob who drove us to Milford Sound is a very good driver. On top of that his knowledge of the region is amazing. Alpine Adventures even managed to book us a last minute scenic flight back to Queenstown for half of us. I highly recommend Lee and his amazing team.

CindyBeezeebee, Malaysia
Amazing heli picnic surprise

The private picnic at Middle Earth Waterfalls was really the icing on the cake of a surprise holiday to Queenstown for my wife and 2 young girls (4 & 2yo). Such an amazing experience. All the staff were so friendly, helpful and professional. Our pilot Craig was outstanding, talking to us throughout the flight, pointing out areas of interest, managing everything including my 2 young children with ease. After a magical glacial flyby we landed at Earnslaw Burn where the kids had such a fun time skipping rocks in the water. Craig setup a wonderful picnic for us and unobtrusively made himself scarce whilst we enjoyed and soaked up the scenery. Words cannot describe the majestic beauty of this place and whilst all the photos you will take will be stunning even they cannot do it true justice. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Sim Turner Sydney, Australia