One of the most picturesque settlements in New Zealand, Arrowtown sits alongside the gold-bearing Arrow River and is just 20 minutes from Queenstown. The town was established in 1862, during the height of the Otago gold rush. The settlement grew quickly as pioneers constructed cottages, shops, hotels and churches, more than 60 of which can still be seen today.
A special highlight is the Chinese settlement at the edge of the river. Built by Chinese miners from 1868, this area of restored shelters and buildings paints a picture of earlier times.
The Lakes District Museum in Buckingham Street has been described as one of New Zealand's best small museums. A variety of entertaining exhibits presents an authentic picture of early Maori life in the Southern Lakes district, the harsh pioneering days and the exciting gold rush era of the mid to late 1800s.
The gold days are long over (although you can still pan for gold in the river with some success), so Arrowtown's focus is on hosting visitors. Play a round at the challenging local golf course or take a 4WD journey to Macetown, a ghost town accessible only by wagon track, or simply while away some time wandering the streets, café hopping, or catch a film!
In April and May Arrowtown ignites with colour as deciduous trees prepare for winter. The Akarua Arrowtown Autumn Festival is held in the last week of April to celebrate the town's seasonal beauty and glittering history.
Arrowtown has a range of cafes, restaurants and bars and several boutiques selling homeware, souvenirs, wool and designer clothing.
Functional facts: Approx. population 2200, information centre, fuel.