If you’ve read The Ghosts of Moonlight Creek, take a guess at the identity of the smart gent in the picture below before you read the caption.

Were  you right?

If you haven’t read the book (yet), would you be surprised to learn that the ‘Moonlight’ in Moonlight Creek isn’t a pretty description of a South Island river at night, it is in fact the surname of the goldminer who first discovered gold in this area.


This is the photo Joe was looking at in the reception area of Moonlight Inn.

Credit: McNeish, James Henry Peter (Sir), 1931-. George Fairweather Moonlight. Ref: 1/2-008604. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Joe learns about George Moonlight from Jock, the innkeeper at Moonlight Inn

The other goldminer mentioned in the story is Gabriel Read, who made the first big discovery of gold in the South Island. In the photo on the right, taken at the height of the Otago gold rush, in 1862, you can see the miners’ white tents, and the mounds of soil they had turned over searching for gold.

Gore, Harry C, fl 1862. Gold field at Gabriels Gully, Clutha district. Ref: 1/2-096648-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Thomas Gabriel Read in 1887

Credit: T. J. Hearn. 'Read, Thomas Gabriel', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 30-Oct-2012


And the final nugget of information I have for you – how big do you think the largest golden nugget ever found in New Zealand was? The answer is, 3 kilos! At today’s prices, it would have been worth about NZ$65,000. The nugget was found in 1909, and named Honourable Roddy, after the prime minister of the time, Roderick McKenzie. It didn’t stay in New Zealand for long. Someone decided it would be a good idea to present it to King George V as a coronation gift (because the English royal family didn’t already have enough sparkly stuff, right?) Forty years later, someone decided to find out what had happened to it, only to discover it had been melted down and turned into a royal tea set!

NZ’s biggest golden nugget weighed 3kg – equivalent to three bags of sugar! Find out more here.

The Chinese Settlement at Arrowtown

Click here to find out all about the Chinese miners’ settlement at Arrowtown.

Above: a group of Chinese miners in Arrowtown

Left: Arrowtown today

Below: Chinese goldminer outside his hut, with the local vicar

Below left: restored Chinese miner’s hut, Arrowtown

Left: Sissie tells the children about Gabriel Read