Getting to Arrowtown is easy and is well worth the visit as part of your Queenstown winter holiday.

Arrowtown is just 20 minutes’ drive from Queenstown or you can catch public transport (bus route #2) from Queenstown's town centre, bus fares are just $2 with a Bee Card or $4 with cash. If you’re feeling energetic, hire a bike and cycle the scenic but undulating Twin Rivers Trail, which takes 2-3 hours from Frankton (we recommend hiring an e-bike if you’re not a fan of hills).

1. Arrowtown history and heritage

Arrowtown was founded in the 1860s, during the Central Otago gold rush. Prospector William Fox found gold in the Arrow Gorge, and a bustling mining settlement grew along the river.

Many of the original miners’ cottages survive to this day. Arrowtown has 70 listed historic sites and is a Tohu Whenua heritage site, a place of special significance that has shaped New Zealand’s history.

Visit the Lakes District Museum

This fascinating museum introduces you to the history of the region, the geological processes that shaped the land, the story of mana whenua settlement, trade, and food gathering in the area, and the process of European colonisation. Explore an old schoolroom, stables, and goldrush era streetscapes, or hire gold pans and try your hand at panning in the Arrow River.

Stroll around the Chinese Village

A short walk from the museum, you’ll find the Chinese miners village. When the gold rush began Chinese goldminers also travelled to the region, and by the 1870s, there was a substantial Chinese community in Central Otago. 

Several of the Arrowtown miners’ huts have been restored, including Ah Lum’s store, which was a hub for the local Chinese community. Information and artefacts from the community are in the museum, and interpretation panels around the settlement tell you more about the site.

Follow the Arrowtown Heritage Town Centre Walk

The Arrowtown Heritage Town Centre Walk is an intriguing way to explore Arrowtown at a leisurely pace. Ask at the museum for information about this self-guided walk, where you encounter historic buildings throughout the village, while dipping in and out of boutiques and cafés.

Discover more must do Arrowtown heritage activities here.

Arrowtown Historic Cottages on a crisp winters dayArrowtown Historic Cottages. Credit @dylan_crosbie

2. Arrowtown boutique shopping experiences

Arrowtown’s a fantastic place to stock up on gifts for friends back home or treats for you. Here are a few Arrowtown shopping highlights to whet your appetite.

Exterior of Remarkables Sweet Shop, Arrowtown.The Remarkable Sweet Shop. Credit @remarkablesweetshop

3. Rug up for a scenic winter walk

Arrowtown is made to be explored on foot. The quaint tree-lined streets, trails along the river, and climbs into the hills all offer a different vista on this beautiful town.

Tobin's Track

A steep 30 minute climb up to Crown Terrace, where a welcome bench gives you stunning views right across the Whakatipu Basin and the surrounding snow-covered mountains. Tobin’s Track is named for Thomas Tobin, who built the track as part of a route to Wānaka. Pass his cottage as you climb.

Arrow Rivers Trail

This beautiful walk takes you on an hour-long loop along the river, through woodland, and past a waterfall. Grab a hot chocolate to-go from Patagonia Chocolates on Ramshaw Lane to warm your insides on this peaceful riverside meander.

Sawpit Gully

For a longer walk into the hills surrounding Arrowtown, the Sawpit Gully trail takes about three hours. Climb from the Arrow River, up a steep track that leads to a saddle with spectacular views of Lake Hayes and the Remarkables and pass interesting historic mining relics en route.

Hiking Tobin's Track in Winter, ArrowtownTobin's Track. Credit @jessefranknz from Instagram

4. Eat and drink

Arrowtown offers a wealth of places to eat and drink, from cafés spilling out of historic miner’s cottages into fragrant gardens, to exciting restaurants offering world cuisine.

Arrowtown cafés

There is no shortage of cute Arrowtown coffee spots. Favourites include the Postmaster’s Cottage Café for tea and cake under the wisteria clad veranda, Provisions for its delightful cottage garden and sticky buns, and The Chop Shop Food Merchants for brunch.

Arrowtown restaurants

Delectable dining options include Aosta for northern Italian cuisine. Next door, family-friendly trattoria, Little Aosta offers wood-fired pizzettas and wines by the carafe. La Rumbla is a popular tapas and cocktail bar, and a guaranteed good time. While the Fork and Tap is a gastropub with a focus on craft beers and good pub grub, including wild game.

Arrowtown wine-tasting

Hidden away on Ramshaw Lane, you’ll find The Winery, a veritable wine tasting goldmine. Taste over 80 wines from New Zealand boutique wineries and a range of New Zealand single malt whiskies. Platters of local cheeses and tapas accompany your tasting adventure.

Person with tray of beer standing in front of the Fork and Tap pub ArrowtownFork and Tap Arrowtown

5. A dose of Arrowtown indulgence

Your guide to Arrowtown winter adventures wouldn’t be complete without a few local indulgences for a midwinter pick-me-up.

Spa day at Millbrook

Just down the road from Arrowtown, Millbrook Resort is home to two 18-hole championship golf courses, restaurants, bars, and an award-winning day spa set in a villa in the grounds. Choose from an extensive menu of beauty and body treatments to reinvigorate and relax.

A film at Dorothy Browns

This boutique cinema is a film lover’s dream come true with arthouse classics and contemporary blockbusters. There’s a roaring fire, comfortable seats with legroom for miles, and a bar serving local wines.

Live music at the Blue Door

Bit of a best kept secret this one. Hidden behind a blue door off Buckingham Street is a cosy cellar bar beloved by locals and touring musicians. Drop in for a quiet dram by the fire. If you’re lucky there’ll be live music or one of their Tiny Room Concerts, with everything from comedy to spoken word slam poetry.

Inside Dorothy Browns Cinema with lush red interior and large comfortable seats, ArrowtownDorothy Browns Boutique Cinema

For more ideas for your Arrowtown adventure, check out our guide to Arrowtown. As you explore Queenstown and Arrowtown this winter, share your highlights with us on Instagram and #QueenstownLive.