A pretty town steeped in gold rush history, Arrowtown’s historic streets and restored cottages have many stories to tell. A short drive from Queenstown, this pretty settlement captures the imagination; transporting visitors back to the exciting gold rush days of the mid 1800’s.

Arrowtown is a highlight on many of our small group tours – read on to find out why.

Nestled alongside the gold-bearing Arrow River, Arrowtown was created during the height of the gold rush. Jack Tawa, a local shearer, first discovered gold here in 1862. Attempts to keep the discovery a secret failed, and only a year later there were 1,500 miners camped on the shores of the river, looking to strike it lucky. The gold rush had arrived, and pioneers quickly built cottages, shops, churches and hotels; many of which can still be admired today.

After a few years, the gold became harder to extract and the West Coast Gold Mines – which opened up in 1865 – saw many of Arrowtown’s miners leaving town in search of easier riches. The local economy took a huge hit, and Chinese miners were invited to Arrowtown in an attempt to re-stimulate local business. The Chinese created a separate settlement, and stayed until 1928.

Relics of times gone by

Today, Arrowtown is a charming settlement that’s almost stuck in time. Quaint streets, homes and shops remain from the gold rush era, and the friendly locals are passionate about their town’s heritage. A real highlight of a visit here is the Chinese settlement, built at the edge of the river. The settlement’s restored shelters have hardly changed in a century. Don’t miss a visit to Ah Lum’s store, which was the social hub of the Chinese community.

Exploring the pretty Arrow River

Strolling the banks of the Arrow River, it’s easy to imagine the waterway awash with miners hoping to find their fortune. For a taste of what their lives were like, give gold panning a go – rumour has it that there are still traces of gold in the waterway. Or, find a grassy river flat to sit on and enjoy Arrowtown’s high number of sunshine hours.

Visit Arrowtown with Moatrek

Arrowtown is a real highlight of many of our small group tours; visitors love the historic Chinese Settlement and strolling the banks of the beautiful Arrow River. Find out more here, or get in touch with us now.


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