Our guide on what to do in Arrowtown
Nestled among Mount Cardrona and Coronet’s scenic peaks, you’ll find the charming little village of Arrowtown. Located just north east of Queenstown, it takes approximately only 20 minutes in the car between the two towns and it also benefits from its close proximity to the unbeatable Southern Lakes district. This is a village steeped in history from the gold rush days and you can still search for gold in the river today! In the 1800’s many Chinese settlers arrived, and their modest but fascinating homes are still standing for you to explore. Arrowtown also has a myriad of pretty cafes, restaurants and boutique shops to meander between. Undoubtedly the best time to visit is during the autumn when the village ignites with the beauty of bright golden leaves. However, Arrowtown’s beauty, rich history and relaxed charm are ever present all year round, so it is definitely one not to be missed.
See our Top 7 Things to do in Arrowtown or…
1. Pan for gold in the Arrow River
This is arguably one of the best activities in Arrowtown and a perfect activity for both children and adults alike. At Dudley’s Cottage you will first learn the skill of panning gold with the guidance of skilled tutors, before making your way to the Arrow River where you can try your luck at finding some real gold nuggets!
2. Learn about the Gold Rush Era at Lakes District Museum & Gallery
Found on the famous Buckingham street, this rather small museum definitely makes up for its size with its fascinating focus on the brutal pioneering days of the European settlers and the gold miners who flooded to the region in the mid 19th century during the Otago gold rush. The museum also details an authentic picture of early Maori life, as well as housing an art gallery and a bookshop. The museum is dedicated to the maintenance of the historical buildings in Arrowtown such as the famous Post Office and the receptionists here can offer suggestions for walking routes to make sure you don’t miss any of these buildings out!
3. Indulge yourself at the original Remarkable Sweet Shop
This is the ideal place to visit for a boost of energy after venturing on one of the many walks around the area. You may see the Remarkable sweet shop as you land in Queenstown airport or perhaps in Queenstown itself, however this cosy shop found on Buckingham street is the original shop where the famous brand began. It is styled as a traditional sweet shop, fitted with glass jars filled with many different assortments of boiled sweets as well as fudges and chocolates.
4. Eat and drink among the flowers
While Arrowtown is most popular in the autumn due to its glorious golden trees, summer is the perfect time to sit back, relax and enjoy a drink or light bite in this particular Arrowtown cafe. Provisions of Arrowtown is truly a place not to be missed. Its idyllic garden is lined with an array of flowers and fruit trees, while its charming wooden benches offer the perfect spot to admire the peaks which cradle these delightful surroundings. The cafe serves a range of delicious hot and cold drinks and it is found nestled away just off the main street, so you can enjoy your drink alongside the charming sound of bird song. All of these elements combine to make for an unforgettable cafe experience.
5. Discover the Chinese Settlement
After exploring the historic buildings found in the heart of Arrowtown – namely on Buckingham street – this is a great way to discover the other side of life during the gold rush. Specifically, what life was life for the Chinese miners who settled in the area during the mid 1800’s. Discover their very humble abodes which still stand today. Signs around the settlement let visitors learn about their tough lives, in which they faced racism, limited work opportunities and resources as well as climate shock, having arrived in the sometimes freezing region of Otago, from the more humid climates in China. This is a humbling and eye opening experience.
6. Enjoy a bike tour
Biking is the perfect way to explore the area, allowing you to not only discover the town centre but also taking your to the beautiful outer surrounds of idyllic rolling hills, vineyards, rivers all upon the backdrop of incredible snowcapped mountains. There are many bike tours to chose from or you can just explore independently with a full day hire. One such route starts in Arrowtown and follow the Arrow River. This will take you across 5 bridges (including the Kawarau bungy bridge) towards the famous Gibbston Valley vineyards, where you can stop for a delicious and well-deserved wine tasting.
7. Walk up Tobins Track
A leisurely hour-long return walk on Tobins Track is the perfect expedition for any skill level. With gorgeous views at the top of Arrowtown and the Wakatipu basin, there’s really no better way to soak in the surrounding beauty of Arrowtown. Don’t forget to pack the essentials – water, snacks, your camera and perhaps some fudge from the Remarkables Sweet Shop!
Featured Properties in Arrowtown
Now you know the best things to do in Arrowtown it’s time to discover where to stay! Due to its close proximity to Queenstown, accommodation books out well in advance, so we advise you begin your search for a holiday home early. Here’s our pick of Bachcare properties for your visit.