Teen shows golden touch

Queenstown's David Gatward-Ferguson competes during Sunday's New Zealand Gold Panning...
Queenstown's David Gatward-Ferguson competes during Sunday's New Zealand Gold Panning Championships at Butler's Green. Mr Gatward-Ferguson's daughter Amelia (18) won the New Zealand title for the second consecutive year. Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.

Queenstown teenager Amelia Gatward-Ferguson booked another trip to Australia after winning the New Zealand Gold Panning Championships overall title on Sunday for the second consecutive year.

Arrowtown Autumn Festival slideshow here

Amelia (18) has been panning since she was 4 years old.

She was taught by her father David Gatward-Ferguson and was the youngest person to win the New Zealand championships in 2010 when she was just 14.

She has recently returned from the Australasian Championships, where she won bronzes in the skilled women's and tri-pan events and placed sixth overall among about 100 competitors.

The New Zealand championships were held on Butler's Green on Sunday, as part of the Arrowtown Autumn Festival. As overall winner, Amelia will receive up to $1200 to compete in Australia next year.

Panners competed across several categories, including ladies', men's, veterans', classic and open, and had to find a pre-determined number of gold flecks in a bucket of sand, stone and gravel, in the fastest time.

Missing a fleck resulted in a three-minute time penalty.

Earlier in the day, Amelia posted the fastest score of 51sec, locating all of the gold.

Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust board member and New Zealand Gold Panning Competition committee member Julie Hughes, of Arrowtown, said the entries in the 2014 championships were up on previous years and competitors came from all over the South Island.

Particularly heartening, was seeing the younger generation becoming involved in the sport, she said.

''There are lots of younger people coming through. We're really thrilled to see a lot of young kids coming in and having a go.''

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