We report quantitative X-ray diffraction, whole-rock geochemical and Sm–Nd isotope data for metabasalts from the Aspiring and Torlesse Terranes in the South Island of New Zealand. These rocks underlie the Mesozoic metasedimentary Otago Schist which is anomalously enriched in gold and host to at least one world-class orogenic gold deposit at Macraes (> 125 t Au). Geochemical and Nd isotopic similarities between the samples point to a common history of the two terranes rather than the amalgamation of one or two allochthonous plate fragments. Furthermore, geochemical and Nd data suggest the metabasalts within both terranes formed in an oceanic but essentially non-subduction-related setting. The origin of the Aspiring and Torlesse basalts can be linked to the formation of an oceanic plateau that had resulted from a (?Permian) mantle plume initiation event proximal to a mid-oceanic rise or triple junction. Given the intrinsically gold-enriched nature of certain oceanic-character mafic rocks, the anomalous gold endowment of the Otago Schist may have been enhanced via the accretion and subduction of a gold-enriched oceanic plateau fragment. The metabasalts are generally enriched in gold (up to 13 ppb) compared to their enclosing metasedimentary rocks (typically ca. 1 ppb), with sulphide-rich metabasaltic rocks having up to 550 ppb Au. However, the relatively small volume of metabasalts in the Otago Schist precludes these rocks as the principal source for Otago Schist orogenic gold, with a primarily metasedimentary source of the gold potentially having a limiting effect on the overall endowment of the Otago Schist. This approach, that employs petrogenetic fingerprinting of potentially fertile source rocks for the assessment of gold endowment, might prove useful in the conceptual exploration targeting of relatively immature and poorly exposed terrains.