New Zealand Post - official issuer of New Zealand stamps & commemorative coins

Gold Rush

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For many hopeful prospectors, their dreams of wealth were fulfilled, with fields in Thames, the West Coast and Otago yielding this precious metal in abundance. Their successes led to more arrivals, with New Zealand experiencing unprecedented population growth during the gold rush years – increasing by 75 per cent between 1861 and 1864.

Issue information

In the middle and later years of the 19th century, miners in their thousands travelled to New Zealand from all over the world, drawn by excited reports of gold discovered and dreams of riches beyond their imaginations. Their arrival and the results of their toil were to have spectacular effects on this country’s social and economic fabric – effects that can still be seen today.

For many hopeful prospectors, their dreams of wealth were fulfilled, with fields in Thames, the West Coast and Otago yielding this precious metal in abundance. Their successes led to more arrivals, with New Zealand experiencing unprecedented population growth during the gold rush years – increasing by 75% between 1861 and 1864.

The gold rushes now rank as one of the most powerful stimuli ever for the New Zealand economy, with the South Island in particular reaping the benefits of its newfound wealth.

Touch Gold for Yourself...

Gold was a glamorous feature on our miniature sheet – look closely and you could see gold foiling on each of the stamps. Both the stamp and miniature sheet first day covers had photographic reproductions that provided a fascinating glimpse of the lives of those passionate about the pursuit of this elusive prize.

Stamps and Collectables in One

The Gold Rush presentation pack included all five stamps beautifully displayed with the miniature sheet and two first day covers. You’ll also learned more about the history of New Zealand’s gold rush – an era of adventure that will never come our way again.

Gold Rush for the Connoisseur

Produced only in limited quantities – just 2,000 worldwide – this prestigious, individually numbered and authenticated limited edition was truly a stamp collector’s treasure. It featured a comprehensive commentary on the gold rush story as well as a signed gold foiled first day cover, imperforate gold foiled individually numbered miniature sheet, colour separations of the $2.00 stamp, plate blocks of each of the five stamp denominations and a set of five stamps.

Commemorative Coins

Take a look at the commemorative coins that were also part of this issue. Click here to find out more.

Product Listing for Gold Rush

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Rice
Single Stamp

Single 45c 'Gold panning c1800s' gummed stamp.

Rub the 45c stamp and you experienced a mini gold rush of your own!

Innovative technology enabled us to produce the stamp with thermographic ink – so that when you touched or rubbed the gold pan in the stamp, the heat from your finger would dissolve the ink to reveal gold nuggets. This was the first time New Zealand Post used this printing technique for its stamps.

Single Stamp

Single 90c 'c1868, Kuranui Creek, Thames' gummed stamp.

Gold was first discovered in Thames on 10 August 1867, by prospector William Hunt. This momentous event heralded years of affluence for the town, with gold production topping £1 million at its peak. Towards the end of the century, Thames had become New Zealand’s largest population centre, with 18,000 inhabitants and more than 100 hotels and three theatres – in contrast to today, with its population of around 7,000 and only four hotels.

Single Stamp

Single $1.35 'c1900s, Tuapeka, Otago' gummed stamp.

The Otago gold rush attracted thousands of prospectors to the province, including many Chinese miners – invited especially by the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce in an initiative that aimed to redress a recent exodus of valued labour to the newly discovered West Coast goldfields. The first Chinese immigrants arrived in 1866 from Australia, and by 1869 more than 2,000 had come to the land they would call the ‘New Gold Mountain’.

Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'c1901, Roxburgh' gummed stamp. 

Getting hard-won gold from its source to the world beyond the mine was an important matter for the miners, with security an overriding concern. Entrepreneurs like Australian Charles Cole soon recognised and seized this niche business opportunity, bringing horses and coaches into valuable service. This 1901 photograph captured the last Otago gold escort, complete with driver and his escorts: policemen and Bank of New Zealand staff.

Single Stamp

Single $2.00 'c1900s, Gold Rush' gummed stamp.

Otago’s principal port, Dunedin, flourished under the influence of the gold rush. It rapidly became New Zealand’s commercial and industrial hub and a bustling hive of building activity. Manufacturing operations – notably engineering works and breweries – thrived and the population swelled, increasing from just 2,400 in 1854 to around 16,000 in 1864. Many of today’s best-known New Zealand businesses had their origins in Dunedin glorious heyday.

Miniature Sheet Mint, used or cancelled miniature sheet. $6.20
First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $6.70
Miniature Sheet First Day Cover First day cover with miniature sheet affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $6.70
Presentation Pack Presentation pack containing a selection of stamp products from the issue and further information on the theme of the stamps (discounted price of $23.95, face value of $25.80). $23.95
Limited Edition Limited edition collectable containing exclusive stamp products not available anywhere else. $135.00

Technical information

Date of issue: 6 September 2006
Number of stamps: Five gummed stamps
Denominations and designs: 45c, 90c, $1.35, $1.50, $2.00
Stamps and first day cover designed by: Cato Partners
Miniature sheet designed by: Cato Partners
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print, New Zealand by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours plus thermochromic ink and gold foiling
Stamp size and format: 45c: 30mm x 40mm (vertical); 90c, $1.35, $1.50, $2.00: 30mm x 40mm (horizontal)
Paper type: Tullis Russell 104 gsm red phosphor stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet: 25
Perforation gauge: 14 x 14
Special blocks: Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B formats.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 5 September 2007.