Mining in New Zealand - Coal

Image: Steam Engine at Kawarau gorge mining Co., New Zealand by Alan Vernon on Flickr

The coal mining industry in New Zealand began in the 1840’s on a small scale. Large scale coal mining began on the West Coast in the 1860’s. The West Coast is still an important part of the coal industry. SCIS 1525168

Department of Conservation

DOC has information about a number of historic coal mining sites.

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary

Digital New Zealand

Search Digital New Zealand to find images of mining and miners from around New Zealand over the past century. To discover sets and items about coal, use the search term coalmining,

Suggested level: primary, intermediate, secondary

GNS science

The New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences website. How the fossil fuels are created, where they are found, and how they are extracted.

Suggested level: primary, intermediate, secondary.


Check out the school work site ManyAnswers for information about fossil fuels, and mining.

Suggested level: primary, intermediate, secondary

Minimising environmental impacts of mining

Links to PDF fact sheets “developed to assist all the parties involved in the decision making about mine operations to reduce the environmental impacts of mining” from the webpage. Covers impact on waterways, and rehabilitating the land.

Suggested level: secondary

Ministry of Economic Development

This Crown Minerals site has a wealth of information, facts and figures about mining in New Zealand today.

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary

New Zealand History Online

New Zealand History Online has information on the history of mining in New Zealand. 

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary

Pike River disaster

Fact sheet on Pike River disaster from Christchurch City Libraries NZ Disasters file. Has links to more in depth material on this disaster

Suggested level: primary, intermediate.

ScienceLearn Hub

Waikato University’s ScienceLearn Hub has information including videos, images and an animation, about fossil fuels in the context ‘Future Fuels’.

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary

Solid Energy – Coal

The state owned coal mining company, Solid Energy, has information about New Zealand coal, coal mining around New Zealand.

Suggested level: primary, intermediate, secondary.

Te Ara

The Encyclopedia of New Zealand has excellent coverage of coal mining including types of coal in New Zealand.

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary

World Coal Association

Information about coal and coal mining issues from around the world, including a section on carbon capture use and storage.

Suggested level: secondary


Both the Australia/New Zealand Reference Center and New Zealand Geographic have links to a good selection of articles on mining in New Zealand.  School login (username and password) is required.

Suggested level: secondary


Have you thought about using fiction with your class to support your topic? The following are some suggestions for your students (and you!) to read and enjoy.

Canary in the coal mine, by Madelyn Rosenberg, 2013  (fiction)


Heart of coal, TVNZ, looks at coal mining history of Denniston on West Coast. 4.00