Family fired up to continue winning gold-panning form

Competitive gold panning is a family sport in the Gatward-Ferguson household.

The Queenstown family has just returned from the Australian Gold Panning Championship with seven medals between them.

The youngest in the family, 11-year-old Josh, returned with the only gold medal, won in the under-12 championship, while big sister Amelia, 18, won bronzes in the skilled women's and tri-pan events. Dad David won bronze in the skilled men's category, and the Nomad Safaris team of Amelia, David and mum Amanda won silver in the teams event.

Amanda was sixth overall of the 100 or so people competing.

The Gatward-Ferguson family has returned with a few fresh ideas for the New Zealand championship, which will be held during the Arrowtown Autumn Festival this month.

Amelia is the two-time New Zealand open champion and will return to defend her title.

Organiser Julie Hughes said that while 150 competitive gold panners would be taking part, there were categories open to other gold panners, including first-timers.

After competing, people could try their hand in the Arrow River, she said.

"It's one of the few places in New Zealand where the public can pan for free without getting a special licence, and there's still gold there."

What: Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust New Zealand Gold Panning Championship

Where: Butlers Green, Arrowtown

When: 10am, Sunday, April 27

More info: 

The Southland Times