Go for a glorious midsummer hike
Arrowtown is nestled at the foot of mountains lined with trails for all abilities.
The Arrow River Trail is a relaxing stroll above the Arrow River through woodland and past a waterfall.
Ramp things up a notch with a short but steep walk Tobin’s Track, that rewards with views over Arrowtown. Check out the remains of Thomas Tobin’s cottage en route.
If you fancy a longer mission, head into the hills on the Saw Pit Gully Trail, with superb panoramas of Lake Hayes and the Remarkables from the saddle between German Hill and Brow Peak.
For a full day’s hike, walk the Macetown Track 15km to the historic ghost town of Macetown, which gives a fascinating insight into the goldmining era. You can now take a dry walk to Macetown without dipping your toes in the Arrow River but if you wish to bike it’s still easier to take the many river crossings, as long as you don’t cross the river after heavy rain.
Picnic under the shady trees
With picturesque greens, and plenty of cafes and bakeries to stock up on fresh food and thirst quenching drinks, Arrowtown is a perfect spot for a picnic.
Butler’s Green is a central spot to picnic. Dudley Cottage next door sells drinks and food. Eat, drink and relax, before paying a visit to The Police Camp Cottage on the green, Arrowtown's oldest surviving timber building built in 1863.
Take your picnic down to the Arrow River for secluded picnic spots under the willow trees. If you’re feeling energetic, hike the Arrow River Bridges Trail 8km to the Swain Family Bridge, for a beautiful walk and a tranquil picnic spot.
Other Arrowtown picnic spots include Buckingham Green, the Library Green, and Alma Stevenson Park and Fire Engine Park for a picnic with little ones who love playgrounds.
Indulge yourself with al fresco dining
From breakfast in a cottage garden, to a lazy lunch in the sun, or a long dinner in the bright southern evenings when the sun doesn’t set completely until after 10:00pm, Arrowtown delivers delightful options for eating outdoors.
Here are some of our favourite Arrowtown spots for al fresco eats.
- The Dishery has delightful garden seating next to the Arrow River Reserve and specialises in bistro style breakfast, lunch and late afternoon grazing with local produce and wine.
- Bendix Stables is a gastro pub in a historic building with plenty of outdoor seating on Arrowtown’s high street. Perfect for spot of people watching with tasty pub grub and live music.
- Provisions is in an old miner’s cottage in Arrowtown with a charming cottage garden. Sit in the garden or on the terrace and enjoy coffee, brunch and home baking. Don’t miss the famous sticky buns.
- Postmasters Cottage Café also has historic cottage charm with sunny outdoor verandas and courtyard perfect for al fresco dining with views of the main street. Open for breakfast, lunch, coffee and cake.
Hire a bike and ride the trails
The trail is an easy flat ride along the beautiful Arrow River, crossing five historic bridges, including the impressive Southern Discoveries suspension bridge and the 80-metre Edgar Suspension Bridge. Part of the trail follows the original goldminers’ road to Queenstown.
Riding to Gibbston Valley and back is about a four-hour return trip, although it'll take longer if you stop at vineyards for tastings. Bike shuttles can pick you up and return you to Arrowtown if you fancy making a thorough exploration of the local vintages.
Browse Arrowtown boutiques for treats and gifts
Arrowtown’s epicentre is Buckingham Street and the lanes and alleys surrounding. The historic buildings house boutiques selling goods as diverse as vintage wooden skis, novelty kitchen items, designer clothing, wine, antiques and art.
- The Remarkable Sweet Shop is a local institution. With free fudge tastings and glass jars full of old-fashioned confectionary, it’s heaven for sweet-toothed folks.
- At the Arrowtown Jade & Opal Factory watch pounamu being carved and buy jewellery and homewares made with greenstone, opals and paua.
- Ikon has fashion from international brands and designers from Australia and New Zealand such as Federation, Coop by Trelise Cooper, All About Eve, and Jorge.
- Not a shop, but an unmissable Arrowtown experience, Dorothy Brown's Cinema is an luscious art house theatre with draped silk ceilings, vast comfortable seats with ample leg-room, and an intermission to sip wine in the bar with a cosy fire.
Come on a Sunday for the Arrowtown Farmers Market, which runs from October until Easter, Sunday 10am-2pm at Arrowtown’s Library Green. It’s the perfect place to stock up for a picnic with local cheese, honey, salami, and fresh baking.
Swim in the Arrow River or pan for gold
On a hot day, cool off in one of the many waterholes and natural pools along the Arrow River. Dive in to freshen up after a hill climb or bike ride, or swing into the water on one of the many rope swings dotted along the river. These swimming spots are popular with locals, so bring along a picnic and make some new friends.
There’s still gold left in the Arrow River, so catch gold fever and try panning for gold. If you find some, you get to keep it. Simply hire a gold pan, head down to the riverbank, and make like a miner. Pans can be hired from the Lakes District Museum.
Play a leisurely round of golf
Keen golfers are spoilt for choice in Arrowtown, with three exceptional golf courses nearby.
The Hills is a Marquee Course and co-host to the New Zealand Open. A 6596-metre par 72 championship course, The Hills has spectacular mountain scenery and a sculpture park packed with phenomenal works from contemporary artists.
Golf at Millbrook is another world-class Marquee Course and joint home to the New Zealand Open. This 27-hole championship course offers three fabulous nine-hole courses, each named after local landmarks.
Less exclusive, but both beautiful and challenging, the 18-hole Arrowtown Golf Club is rated one of the top 10 courses in New Zealand and was recently listed on Golf.com's "Short and Sweet" list of the top 25 best short courses worldwide.