Featuring original miners’ cottages, wooden walkways, saloons, 19th century churches and tree lined avenues, Arrowtown is considered one of New Zealand’s most well preserved gold mining towns.
Located a short half hour drive from Queenstown (commonly known as the adventure capital of the world), Arrowtown has small town laid-back atmosphere.
It wasn’t always so laid back. In the 1860s, while in the midst of a gold rush, the town was overrun with thousands of miners from around the world hoping to make their fortunes.
When the gold ran out, however, so too did most of the miners. But while some miners left, others, in particular, Chinese miners, arrived in droves, encouraged by the Otago Provincial Council desperate to keep the town alive. Today, the restored Chinese Village on the outskirts of the town provides a stark tribute to the conditions that these miners had to endure.
You can still find gold here, but it’s not quite what the miners had in mind. These days, most of Arrowtown’s gold is found in the autumn leaves that attract visitors from around the world and also in the liquid gold created by the region’s wineries and breweries.
From the up market Saffron restaurant (reservations a must) to the down market Arrow Brewing Company, there are plenty of places to discover this liquid gold.
For a uniquely Arrowtown experience, head for Dorothy Browns. This boutique cinema and bar, named, according to local lore, after a turn of the century photographer who frequented the town’s opium dens while co-habitating with a Chinese man, is a real treasure. The bar doubles as a tiny bookstore, just to sort of place to park yourself on a winters’ day.
In the evening, order the cheeseboard and glass or two of the local vino and then collapse into the comfortable armchairs to watch art house movies in the boudoir-ish designed theater, complete pink and chiffon sheets floating from ceiling to floor and chandeliers dangling from padded Chinese silk ceiling panels.
Eat, drink, and then rest for the night.
(photo credit: Arrowtown Promotion and Business Association Incorporated)