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Gold miner Wattie Thompson

Roland Jones

I started my travels around the South Island in late March 2023 in my campervan.

I decided to travel the South Island anti-clockwise. Over to Nelson and down the coast, stopping at freedom camping sites. I love the natural surroundings that can be found at these back-of-the-way places.

Lindis Pass Hotel ©2023 Roland Jones

One such place was the Lindis Pass Hotel. I was intrigued by the history of this building. First set up in 1861 it became a permanent building in1873.

As I explored the area, I came across this derelict house (above) built by Wattie Thompson who had panned the river for gold for over 50 years.

Unfortunately, he went on the AirNZ Erebus flight to Antarctica and never returned. There is a full article which is interesting reading if you follow the link on

In the article it states that people are still looking for the place where he stashed his gold.

However, I became friendly with another prospector on-site who told me that he left a letter to a farmer’s wife that if anything happened to him, she should read the letter. On opening the letter, it told her where to find the pickle jar containing 80ozs of gold.

So the locals still searching are after fools’ gold — LOL.

©2023 Roland Jones

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