Short Walks in Arrowtown

Arrowtown Millennium Walk – a celebration of history

This is one of the most popular walking tracks in Arrowtown and a must on anyone’s list of Sunday afternoon strolls. It takes about an hour and follows the babbling river and you'll see the colourful foliage Arrowtown’s well-known for.

There’s an historic importance to this area: ‘X’ marks the spot where Jack Tewa found gold in 1862, sparking a gold rush in the region. You’ll also pass the site of one of New Zealand’s first quartz mines and Lord of the Rings fans will spot that the area was the location for ‘The Gladden Fields’.

Start on the true right of the river. You’ll pass a bridge, but stay on the same side until the next bridge, which you can cross to head upstream back to the junction with Tobins Track. This track is shared with mountain bikers. 

  • Duration: 1 hour 30 min return
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Location: Arrowtown Skate Park


Arrow River Trail – a taste of the Arrowtown trails

This short (1 hour) walk is great year-round (though it does get slippery in winter and spring). Start at the Butlers Green notice board and head left to the footbridge over Bush Creek. From here, turn right, then follow the track around to the left until you see the Arrow Irrigation Pipeline. The track follows the pipeline most of the way and rises above the Arrow River. You’ll see wildflowers, a waterfall and be serenaded by birds.

When you reach the Norman Smith footbridge, turn around and retrace your steps home. Alternatively, the trail links up to the more challenging Sawpit Gully Trail and the Macetown 4WD track if you’d like to make a day of it.

The Arrow River walking trail is an easy, reasonably flat trail, but you should wear sturdy shoes and (as always), don’t forget to bring water and snacks. This track is shared with mountain bikers. 

  • Duration: 1 hour return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: Butlers Green


Tobins Track – feel like the Queen of the town

Fun fact: this short track is named after the Irishman who won the road-building contract. It’s up, up, uphill, but doable for energetic families.

A favourite among locals, Tobins climbs up to the Crown Terrace and has stunning views right across the Wakatipu Basin and surrounding mountains – you’ll feel like the King/Queen of the town up here. There’s a couple of benches to sit on and take it all in. This track is shared with mountain bikers.

Insider’s Tips: the access to New Chum Track is halfway up Tobins Track. You can now extend Tobins Track walk by going up the steep track to the summit of Mt Beetham.

  • Duration: 1 hour return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: O’Callaghan Park/ Ford Street


Half Day Walks in Arrowtown

Lake Hayes Walkway – walk around the ‘mirror’ lake

Walk around the mirror-like lake (well, on a calm day, anyway) and snap photographs of the mountains reflected in the water. This walk is an Instagrammer’s dream and an easy, graded track suitable for energetic families.

It’s home to a population of kāmana/Australasian crested grebe and farmed deer can often be spotted on nearby hills. The trail is very popular with local runners and bikers and is well-positioned to soak up the sun well into the evening in summer. This track is shared with mountain bikers.

  • Duration: 2–3 hours return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: Lakes Hayes Pavilion


Bush Creek Track – a refreshing walk through history

This relaxing walk along – you guessed it – Bush Creek, leads to Arrowtown’s old water supply intake. Keep your eyes peeled for the old stone walls built by miners to divert the creek and turn up gold. The track is as fresh and as green as its name suggests and is a good option on a hot day.

The track has recently been extended to lead sharply upwards, to an open basin after which there’s another 30-minute slog to the saddle. From here, there’s great views of the Wakatipu Basin and the option to continue walking up to Coronet Peak (an additional two hours one way).

Note that this track crosses private land; please be respectful. This track is shared with mountain bikers.

  • Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes one way
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: Arrowtown Chinese Settlement


Sawpit Gully – a lovely loop around the hills

This lovely loop track is more easily done anticlockwise, via the Arrow River Trail. Follow this trail first, then turn off just before the bridge, into Sawpit Gully. You’ll see water races and traces of Arrowtown’s gold mining history, including a derelict stone hut.

The hut was used by a succession of miners and it’s a great spot to stop for lunch. You’ll join the Big Hill trail at Eichardt’s flat and follow it down towards Bush Creek into Arrowtown, with good views of the Wakatipu Basin along the way.

Note that this track crosses private land; please be respectful. Mountain bikes are not allowed on this trail. 

  • Duration: 2-2.5 hours’ return
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: Arrowtown Chinese Settlement


New Chums Gully – take in some of Arrowtown’s best scenery

A nondescript entrance halfway up Tobins Track is where this more challenging Arrowtown walk begins. You’ll need to have some walking experience to complete this track. A section along the ridgeline is marked with orange markers.

We might be biased, but this is one of the best day walks in Arrowtown in terms of the variety of its vistas. It winds alongside streams, takes in stunning views of the Arrowtown and Wakatipu Basin and there’s traces of the area’s gold mining history too.

The exit point is at the Norman Smith Bridge. This track crosses private land; please be respectful and note that mountain bikes are not allowed here.

  • Duration: 3-hour loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
  • Location: Half-way up Tobins Track



Full Day Hiking Trails in Arrowtown

Big Hill Track – a bit of effort, a big reward

This isn’t a misnomer. Big Hill is in fact, quite a big hill. You’ll need to have sturdy legs and bit of experience to tackle this Arrowtown hiking trail which can be challenging in parts.

From the bottom of Bush Creek follow the old bridle trail. Until the road was built in 1884, this was the main route into Macetown.

The track steadily climbs up to Eichardt’s Flat then you need to continue up to the saddle – look around, there’s spectacular views over the Arrow Basin and Lake Hayes here. From this point, you can return via the same route or descend to Eight Mile Creek, then follow the creek downstream to the Macetown Road.

The track crosses private land – so please be respectful and don’t bring trail bikes.

  • Duration: 4 hours one way
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
  • Location: Arrowtown Chinese Settlement

Macetown 4WD Road – an epic day walk, with the option to camp

This 4WD track is used by vehicles, bikers and horse riders, so share the trail with care. It dips in and out of the river (top tip: there's also a walking/biking track option that avoids the river crossings which is perfect for when the river is high), and leads to the derelict township. 

The bakery is all that remains of Macetown and it’s been preserved to offer a glimpse of what life was once like in this rural village. There’s plenty of historical (and natural) points of interest along the way too.

Camping is allowed in the Macetown Historic Reserve, so you could turn this relatively easy track into a fun place to camp overnight (stargazing, anyone?). You can also make the walk to Macetown a loop using the Big Hill track

  • Duration: 6–8 hours’ return
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Location: Arrowtown Chinese Settlement


For a detailed Arrowtown walking tracks map, view the Department of Conservation's Wakatipu Walks brochure.