Arrowtown — attractions & places to visit
Undeniably Arrowtown is a tourist attraction, yet it manages to retain a charm making it one of the destinations New Zealanders and other visitors should visit. This small quaint town with its visible heritage, boutique shops, cafes aplenty and delicious temptations, think retail therapy here, is captivating. The Maori name for the Arrow river is Haihainui which means ‘Big Scratches. Courtesy of the Lakes District Museum and Art Gallery.
Arrowtown is a postcard tourist town neatly wrapped as a preserved nineteenth gold mining settlement. The town has a glorious main street characterised by cheerful timber facades. The adjacent Arrow river flows through the dappled light of deciduous trees and coupled with a layer of polished urban hospitality visitors flock in their thousands to soak in the atmosphere. Arrowtown is definitely quaint and despite the crowds of tourists is definitely worth time spent exploring. The town is not a replica gold mining town but the real deal. Effectively you are visiting an open air museum, complete with contemporary cultural attractions such as art galleries, gift shops and souvenirs. And the landscape is luscious framing the place all year round making for instagram moments around every corner
Best time to visit
Year round Arrowtown is attractive. A favourite is autumn, the splendour of foliage, bursts of orange, gold and amber compliment the nineteenth century vibe. It is cuteness overload on the senses.
Walking in the small compact town is the best way to explore the town. As a very popular visitor destination traffic congestion makes parking problematic. Check Parking Queenstown local government parking zones for the district.
- Heritage, gold mining trails
- Shopping in a main street with its village charm
- Indulgence, confectionery galore, try the local chocolates
- Active walks and trails to explore
- Glorious scenery, rivers, streams and mountains
How far is Arrowtown from Queenstown?
20 km 20-30 minutes
WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN ARROWTOWN
ARROWTOWN THINGS YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS OUT ON
- Arrow River walk
- Arrowtown heritage Chinese gold mining settlement
- Lakes District Museum & Art Gallery
- Buckingham Street, main precinct with its charming heritage feel
- Indulging in retail therapy Arrowtown style
- Early morning before the day trippers from Queenstown soaking up the atmosphere that is Arrowtown
- Alternative STAY for Queenstown holidays
- Gold panning the Arrow River
WALKS IN TOWN
Walking maps are available for purchase from the Arrowtown visitor centre. Travel Pack Information includes a brief description of walking and cycling trails in the district, including Arrowtown.
Arrow River Traillearn more
Tobins Tracklearn more
Sawpit Gully Tracklearn more
Soldiers Hill walklearn more
GARDENS & PARKS
Marshall Park is a popular place, at the top of the main shopping street for visitors who have snacks or takeaway lunches for an impromptu picnic. There are public toilet facilities.
The district is well known as a favourite for garden focused guided tours. The peak season for guided tours is either spring or autumn.
MUSEUMS & ART GALLERIES
Lakes District Museum & Gallerylearn more
Arrowtown Chinese settlementlearn more
Macetown, in the Arrow Gorgelearn more
SHOPPING AND RETAIL THERAPY
Arrowtown is awash with exclusive New Zealand branded designer wear, clothing specialising in warm cosy merino wool garments, rugged outdoor clothing designed to withstand alpine winter conditions as well as a raft of glorious local artisan goods. Cafes, restaurants and eaties are dotted among the shops keeping visitors well fed.
For the latest openings and closings check out Shop in Arrowtown. While not always the place for a bargain Arrowtown should be one of your must-go shopping destinations in New Zealand.
To explore Macetown and off road tracks you will need a 4WD. To enjoy the trip it is recommended a local tour operator is used. It is an investment in safety as well hearing about the region from a professional who will take you to their favourite secret spots. On gravel roads, through the backcountry, along cliff edges, it is a way to indulge in an exhilarating, breathtaking day trip without doing the hard work. It is advisable that 4WD tours are booked prior to arrival to avoid disappointment.
Where to Stay, Arrowtown is the perfect home base to enjoy the region. 15 minutes from Queenstown Airport, Arrowtown is close, quieter, and sophisticated. Choices from luxury resort, hotels, motels, B&Bs, and a good motor camp with cabins.
DAY TRIPS FROM ARROWTOWN
- Cycle the district exploring local wineries and historic sites
- Take a 4WD journey to Macetown, a ghost town originally accessible only by wagon track or by foot.
ARROWTOWN SHUTTLE FROM QUEENSTOWN
is no longer operating.
There are a number of providers in Arrowtown and it is a popular way to travel between Queenstown and Arrowtown as well as explore the trails traversing the district. Many offer self-guided tours which you can follow and stop by all the highlights including historical sites, viewing points and wineries. This is a popular day trip option for people staying elsewhere. Arrowtown Bike Hire offers both full-day and half-day hire. They’re open from 8.30-5.30 pm daily. E-bikes are also available.
Travel pack information
Lakes District Museum and Art Gallery research resources. Available Resources – Archives – A mine of information Lakes Districts Museum records are available for public viewing include: Please note: access to the archives is by appointment only.
Resources available for researchers include:
- Lake Wakatipu Mail 1885 – 1939
- Mountain Scene (1973 – present)
- The Mirror (1987 – present)
- Extensive biographical resources: including births, deaths and marriages
- Cemetery records: Queenstown, Skippers, Arrowtown, Cardrona, Glenorchy, Kingston
- Family Files: Extensive files are held on over 400 Wakatipu families
- School registers: Arrowtown, Lower Shotover, Gibbston, Macetown, Queenstown
- Queenstown Courier (the Queenstown District Historical Society)
- Otago and Southland Presbyterian Marriages 1848 – 1920
- Stones Otago & Southland Directory –various years
- McKay’s Directory – various years from 1863
- Along with plenty of other goodies for researchers to sink their teeth into! Please email the archives to make an appointment to undertake your research.
- Ghost towns haunt the southern regionco.nz online newspaper article about abandoned, ghost towns in Southland.
- An excellent resource is About Arrowtown for booking tours, booking accommodation and helpful hints about your visit.
The journey is worth it.