Arrowtown is a historic former gold mining town, rich in heritage and one of New Zealand’s iconic visitor destinations.
Located only 20 minutes’ drive from Queenstown, the spectacular scenery, distinct four seasons and charming character make Arrowtown a must-do for visitors from all over the world. This delightful town has maintained its rich heritage and historic buildings and is now a vibrant destination with world class food and beverage, shopping and attractions.
Arrowtown is built on the banks of the Arrow River, once a rich source of gold, which attracted miners from around the world in pursuit of their fortune. In 1862 thousands of miners flocked to the Arrow River to the cry of “gold!” At the height of the gold rush, the population reached 7,000. While the miners have now gone, the legacy of those early settlers has been retained in Arrowtown through careful preservation and it has become a treasure in its own right. The Lakes District Museum, located on the main street, is the focal point for the history of Arrowtown and the surrounding areas and is also the town's major Information Centre.
Arrowtown's history has been well preserved, and a stroll through the main streets or down to the Chinese Village gives you a glimpse into what life would have been like for the early settlers. Arrowtown has been recognised as Tohu Whenua - places that have shaped our nation, acknowledging that the town is one of New Zealand's best heritage experiences where visitors can connect with our past and the stories that define New Zealand's identity.
Buckingham Street in autumn
Sophisticated food and shopping
While Arrowtown has successfully preserved its rich heritage it has also developed to be a world-class destination. Arrowtown has a unique ambience with the historic downtown area offering a sophisticated range of fine clothing stores, art studios, galleries, cafés and restaurants, boutique accommodation and traditional pubs and bars. Free WiFi Public access hot spots give visitors internet access in central Arrowtown.
Some of the ‘must-dos’ in Arrowtown include visiting the Historic Chinese Settlement, now stone ruins but once a thriving miners' village, trying your hand at gold panning in the Arrow river, visiting the Lakes District Museum or browsing through the boutique shopping precinct.
Autumn in Arrowtown
As well as the unique heritage precinct, shops and great food and wine, Arrowtown is also renowned for being one of the most amazing places in New Zealand to experience the colours of the four seasons. In any season the town is a photographer’s dream and Arrowtown is renowned for its stunning autumn colours providing hues of gold and orange on the hillsides and surrounds during April and May. The Arrowtown Autumn Festival celebrates the golden season and provides popular activities and entertainment in mid-April.
Arrowtown cottages in autumn
Arrowtown Activities and attractions
Arrowtown is a great place for hiking or biking with easy access to the ‘Queenstown Trail,’ with tracks leading to Gibbston, Lake Hayes and Queenstown. There are also many smaller walking trails and cycle tracks, of varying degrees of difficulty, that either start or finish in Arrowtown as well as access to the famous Macetown and Motatapu Tracks.
Arrowtown is also a popular base for snow enthusiasts during winter, with four world class ski areas between 20 – 60 minutes’ drive away. The town is also a year-round golf lover’s paradise with three superb golf courses only five minutes away. There is the popular local Arrowtown Golf Course, The Hills course and Millbrook Resort, a 27 hole championship course and home to the NZ Golf Open.
Biking in Arrowtown
Getting to Arrowtown
Arrowtown is located an easy 20 minute drive from Queenstown's town centre. Queenstown's $2 Orbus runs regular buses around the region including Arrowtown for a flat fee of only $2. Check the Orbus schedule here.