ZnO nanowires arrays were synthesized on gold coated Si by the hydrothermal technique. The density of the ZnO nanowires array is found to be inversely proportional to the particle size of gold films. The initial nucleation of ZnO nanowires is found to nucleate at the boundaries of the gold nano-particle films. The density of the ZnO nanowires can be controlled through the particle size of the gold nano-particle films. Anomalous photoluminescence properties were observed from the as-grown ZnO nanowires. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.