We really wanted to go somewhere new on or day off so we chose Arrowtown. It was close enough, to be able to spend there a whole day.
Arrowtown is a living historic settlement with goldmining history. You can explore the gold mining sights along the Arrow river. You can tell right away that this town has a lot of history. The little cottages and stone buildings was just one of the proof. I would say that this is one of the most picturesque little miner towns in New Zealand.The town was established in 1862, during the height of the Otago gold rush. The settlement grew quickly as pioneers constructed cottages, shops, hotels and churches. More than 60 of those buildings are still there.
A special highlight is the Chinese settlement at the edge of the river. Built by Chinese miners from 1868, this area of restored shelters and buildings paints a picture of earlier times.
The Lakes District Museum in Buckingham Street has been described as one of New Zealand's best small museums. A variety of entertaining exhibits presents an authentic picture of early Maori life in the Southern Lakes district, the harsh pioneering days and the exciting gold rush era of the mid to late 1800s.
The gold days are long over it is no secret that there’s still gold in The Arrow river.
I haven’t thought about myself as a gold digger, but that day I decided to try Gold Panning. You can rent a pan and a shovel in the information center nearby. It costs only 3 NZD and 5NZD 9if I remmember correctly) as a security deposit that they will give you back after you return the tools. I spent an hour at the river, with no luck. But there was an older man who came and he had a big bucket with him. I was wondering does he ever fill it all with the gold he finds here? Hmm...
You can also try gold panning next to the Dudley's cottage, where they tell you about tehniques and what to look for.
One of the main streets is actually a shopping street. Good place for food and souvenirs. There is actually a lot of cute shops with gemstones, gold jewellery and wool knittwear.
Arrowtown is in the middle of some amazing scenery and a great way to appreciate it is via the Crown Range Road, just off the Arrowtown Junction. The Crown Range Road is officially the highest main road in New Zealand, reaching a height of 1121 metres! There’s an awesome scenic lookout point (marked on Google) that you can drive to admire the picturesque mountains and valley. It is best if you have a good car, for our minivan this road was a bit too steep, but we still manage to reach the lookouts.
Another great opportunity to appreciate Arrowtown’s scenery is to do so on foot via the Sawpit Gully Trail. We didn't manage to do it, as we arrived at the town quite late, but if you start your day early you can definitely do this one. The trail starts from the middle of town and it takes about 3-hour return for the whole loop. The trail takes in a varied landscape and you can see the remnants of the Otago Gold Rush with ruins and an old cottage where miners used to live. A bit of climbing is required on this one so you’ll need a good level of fitness.
Tobins Track is a shorter walk as it’s only 30 minutes each way. You can still find panoramic views of the town and the wider Wakatipu Basin. There’s even a nice seat at the top for the weary-legged to rest their feet and appreciate the scenery.