The cry of “gold!” in 1862 brought thousands of miners to the Arrow River, one of the world’s richest sources of alluvial gold. At the height of the gold rush the population reached 7,000. These pioneers built small cottages of stone and wood, established churches, and planted avenues of beautiful trees. Through careful preservation, the legacy of the early settlers is retained in a fascinating, picturesque town where the past and the present are delightfully blurred.

Arrowtown is now a treasure in its own right.

Arrowtown attractions

Sophisticated in its appeal, the cobbled main street, fine clothing stores, art studios and galleries, outstanding café and restaurant culture, unique accommodation, traditional pubs and boutique bars create an ambience that is sought out by both visitors and residents.

The town is a golf lovers paradise, bounded by three superb golf courses – Millbrook, The Hills and the stunning Arrowtown Golf Course. Snow enthusiasts will also enjoy Arrowtown in winter, being in close proximity to six excellent ski areas.

A major attraction is the Lakes District Museum. Established in 1948, the Lakes District Museum is much more than a museum in the conventional sense; hence its popularity with local residents and visitors from all around the world. It is now recognised as one of New Zealand’s leading small museums attracting over 40,000 visitors a year. The museum also houses an art gallery, bookshop, archives and research facility and a busy education programme, along with operating Arrowtown’s historic Post Office. In addition the local Information Centre is located in the museum.

Chinese gold miners were invited to work in Arrowtown in the 1860’s. They created their settlement on the outskirts of the town and remained for the next 60 years before it was abandoned. In 1983 the settlement underwent an archaeological ‘dig’. Some buildings were restored and others recreated. Interpretation panels now guide you around this fascinating free Arrowtown attraction.

Arrowtown is also renowned for its extensive range of historic and recreational walking trails for all fitness levels including the Arrow River Trail, Macetown Walking Track, Tobins Track, Lake Hayes Walk and a track to the historic Chinese Village. Ranging from a stroll around the river to half and full day hikes, take the time to discover and explore.

After the goldrush

Arrowtown settled into becoming a quiet, agricultural community surrounded by farmland and it has also become a holiday haven for both Kiwi and international visitors.  It is rapidly gaining a name for itself as a boutique destination offering a real, rustic and friendly holiday experience – miles away from the bright lights of Queenstown.  These days, tens of thousands of people come to Arrowtown yearly to experience our fabulous town.

Future challenges

But this brings with it it’s own challenges – pressure to develop has seen Arrowtown’s boundary stretch in the last two decades and the population explode to 2,400 in 2011. While the village has absorbed this growth and enjoyed the influx of new people and energy, there has been increasing dissent over the continued urban creep.  In recent times, the expansion of Arrowtown has been challenged by many passionate Arrowtowners – both for and against growth. It’s a heated debate and will continue to excite the Arrowtown community in future.

The Lord Of the Rings

Arrowtown residents embraced the filming of The Lord of the Rings. The Ford of Bruinen was located just upstream of the town and it was here that Arwen Evenstar, daughter of Elrond, carried the injured and dying Frodo across the river on horseback with the Black Riders close behind. The gushing Arrow River and its bush-clad walkways are internationally preferred sites for location filming of movies and commercials. It’s also a photographer’s dream.

Copy thanks to Destination Queenstown

2013 Census Data

2,445 people usually live in Arrowtown. This is an increase of 294 people, or 13.7% , since the 2006 Census.

Arrowtown has 8.7% of the Queenstown Lakes population.

Population of Arrowtown 2013 Census: Male 1,200, Female 1,248, Total 2,445

There are 1002 occupied dwellings in Arrowtown.

12% of people in Arrowtown are aged 65 years and over, compared with 10.7% of the Queenstown Lakes population.

24.3% of people are aged under 15 years in Arrowtown, compared with 18.4% for all of the Queenstown Lakes population.

Source: Statistics New Zealand, Census 2013.