Day pans out well for seasoned veteran

2012 New Zealand Gold Panning Champion Bill Lind, of Balclutha, with his trophy after the national tournament in Arrowtown yesterday. Photo by James Beech.
2012 New Zealand Gold Panning Champion Bill Lind, of Balclutha, with his trophy after the national tournament in Arrowtown yesterday. Photo by James Beech.
A lifelong gold panner from Balclutha will take on the Australians next year after winning the 2012 New Zealand Gold Panning Championships in Arrowtown yesterday.

Bill Lind lifted the trophy at the public prizegiving on Butler's Green for the fifth time in the past six years. The man who spent time in Alexandra, Wanaka and Haast panned for gold in a mere 1 minute 53 seconds and won a sluice machine, a gold medallion coin and $1200 towards his journey to the 2013 Australasian championships in March.

Mr Lind's time was comfortably ahead of his nearest challenger, Annie Fitzgerald, of Palmerston, at 3min 21sec and Queenstown's own Amelia Gatwood-Ferguson at 4min 41sec.

Time penalties were given for every flake missed.

Competitors did not know how many flakes were in the buckets of earth they had to pan.

Asked what the secret of his success was, Mr Lind said "just perseverance. Technique, I suppose, and I still use the traditional pan. It's what I'm used to and our family's always used it.

"In Australia, it's pretty tough, but we'll have a good go at it."

There were 140 competitors and 19 teams in the Oceana Gold-sponsored championship, which was held for the first time in Arrowtown to coincide with the ongoing celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the discovery of gold in the Arrow River.

More gold-panning activities were planned for Cardrona on December 8, organisers said.

Category winners were: Under-13, Sam Knight (10, Wanaka); under-16, Alex Vilela (14, Alexandra); veterans, Artie Lind (Timaru); team, Frankton Volunteer Fire Brigade; women's and open, Amelia Gatwood-Ferguson (Queenstown); men's and classic, Marcus Binks (Bendigo).

Championship: Bill Lind (Balclutha) 1, Annie Fitzgerald (Palmerston) 2, Amelia Gatwood-Ferguson (Queenstown) 3.