The hunt is on for thieves who struck at four remote goldmining sites in the Goldsborough area on Thursday night, stealing gold and leaving a trail of damage running into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A partner in one of the gold claims, Tracy Jane Billingsley, said on their claim alone the thieves had taken half a tonne of gold-bearing wash and flipped over an almost brand new heavy duty dump truck.
"As well, the thieves started our 38-tonne digger and smashed everything in its path and that included our trommels [gold wash plants] ... There was just a ton of damage."
At least five people must have been involved, and "they knew what they were doing".
"They broke into laboratories and container units looking for gold," but left power tools.
Ms Billingsley said she and the other mine owners wanted to alert other operators that the thieves were on the prowl, as claims were being targeted "all over the place".
"With the price of gold at the highest it has been for some time [currently $NZ2040 an ounce], these thieves know what they are doing.
"It has got to the point where we will have to look at having people living on site permanently to avoid this happening again."