West Coast Gold Rush: Father-Son Duo Strikes Internet Gold

26 July 2023
Development West Coast
On the West Coast’s untamed natural wilderness, a father and son gold prospecting team are striking it rich, not just in gold but also in internet fame.

Anthony and Dillon Thom, known as “The Sluicers” on social media, have found their gold prospecting videos amassing millions of views, with an astonishing reach of up to 100 million.

17-year-old Dillon Thom spoke of the surprising impact their adventures have had on their viewers. “The number of people who have messaged me and said they’ve been inspired to have trips over to New Zealand and the West Coast from overseas to find gold is crazy,” he said.

Dillon fell in love with the gold-rich West Coast as a child, during summer holidays in Charleston, Buller. His fascination with the precious metal and its history spurred him on to pursue this hobby, first with gold panning at Shantytown, and then more serious prospecting after purchasing supplies at the Canterbury A&P show in 2019.

Since then, their fortunes have glittered like the gold they seek. The duo, armed with a sluice box, gold pans and metal detectors, have found nuggets worth up to $1000 and have amassed a total haul of 6 to 7 ounces (200g). They share their adventures on Instagram, their Youtube channel and with paid subscribers on their Patreon site.

Sluicers 2
Dillon Thom convinced his dad, Anthony, to take him for a trip to the West Coast with his newly-bought gold pans in 2019. The pair haven’t looked back.

“We keep the nuggets and the more sentimental finds,” says Dillon, who has found a sense of connection to the land and its history. He describes the thrill of the hunt: “You are 50km from anywhere with no sounds, only the creek, the birds and you... It just keeps you coming back. Once you start it’s hard to stop.”

The Thoms' adventures are not just about striking gold; they've also strengthened their bond as a family. Anthony Thom, Dillon's father, said: “He’s pretty passionate about it. It gives me a break from city life. It’s good bonding time. It’s pretty exciting - it’s almost like getting money out of the ground.”

The biggest nugget Anthony and Dillon Thom found is 7.7g, and worth about $1000.
The biggest nugget Anthony and Dillon Thom found is 7.7g, and worth about $1000.

Hobby fossicker Carey Lister, the General Manager of Scenic Hotel Group, Franz Josef, shared: “Every single flash in the pan makes you feel like a kid on Christmas morning, but also somehow connects you back to the old timers who came to the coast all those years ago to hunt for this precious metal."

Lister added, “Just listening to the birdlife that most people only hear on a Tourism NZ marketing video is pretty cool, and nothing quite prepares you for the Kereru that you didn’t see, taking flight from a branch just a few metres above you."

“Every gold fossicker has their own motivation or goal that they want to achieve, and whilst it would be nice to find that gumboot size nugget, mine is simply to find enough to make wedding rings for my children should they choose to tie the knot."

Carey Lister

“I’m only up to a couple of grams so still have a wee way to go yet, but that’s ok - I know there is plenty more gold in them thar hills just waiting to be found.”

There are 20 public fossicking sites on the West Coast people can use without a permit.

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