Arrowtown - A Few Hours To Explore


By Kim Mackay-Wallace

5 minute read

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Arrowtown, New Zealand

Arrowtown is a quaint historic town, first established during the gold rush period of the 1800s. With its old architecture, mining history, stunning scenery, boutique shops and array of cafes, bars and restaurants, there is plenty to see and do in Arrowtown. You could happily spend several days exploring the little township and surrounding area, but can easily take in all the best bits in a few hours or a day. Our Masterpiece, Kiwi Classic and Pure South tours all visit Arrowtown and allow some free time to explore the township. So whether you are going to visit Arrowtown as part of one of our New Zealand small-group adventure tours, or explore on your own, we’ve gathered all the information you need right here.

What are the best things to do in Arrowtown?

Arrowtown has something for everyone to enjoy – from shopping, to learning about local history, to sampling local cuisines and tasting wines from the region to walking or biking the local trails, Arrowtown has options for all to enjoy. These are our top 10 things to do in Arrowtown:

1. Wander the main street of Arrowtown

The charming and quirky main street of Arrowtown is one of the most photographed spots in New Zealand, and it’s not hard to see why. Buckingham Street is the centre of Arrowtown and features tightly packed and beautifully restored heritage buildings and miners’ cottages from the 1870s, now converted into shops, restaurants and local businesses. A stroll along the street will take you back in time and is a must-do when visiting the area.

 2. Explore the historic Chinese mining settlement

In the mid-19th century Arrowtown was a bustling mining town. Chinese miners flocked to the small village of Arrowtown in search of gold and by 1874 there were over 3500 Chinese miners living in the area. Many of the old huts that the Chinese gold miners used to inhabit have now been restored, and visitors are able to explore the old settlement and gain an appreciation for what life was like in this era. The historic settlement is a short 5-minute walk from the main street of Arrowtown and is free to visit.

arrowtown chinese settlement

 3. Take a walk on the local trails

Arrowtown has lots of beautiful trails to explore. There are plenty of good options anywhere between half an hour and half day walks. Our favourites are the Arrow River Trail (1 hour, 4.2km loop), Tobin’s Track (1.5hr, 4.6km return), Sawpit Gully (2-3hrs, 7.9km loop) and Big Hill (5-6hrs, 14.2km return).

 4. Do some wine tasting

The Central Otago region is famous for its wines, especially Pinot Noir. There are hundreds of vineyards in the surrounding Central Otago area, and several of these have cellars that are open for wine tastings in and around Arrowtown. ‘The Winery’ is located right in the heart of Arrowtown and has an impressive collection of over 1000 wines available for tasting. For a true winery experience, check out Amisfield, Wet Jacket Wines, or Akarua wineries all of which have cellar doors located within a 5-minute drive of Arrowtown. There are also several local companies who operate wine tours departing from Queenstown and Arrowtown which will take you on a day or half day trip around the best wineries in the area.

 5. Go for a bike ride along the Queenstown Trail

The Queenstown Trail is made up of a network of more than 130km of dual purpose biking and walking trails throughout Queenstown, Arrowtown and the Gibbston Valley. The section of the Queenstown Trail that passes through Arrowtown follows alongside the picturesque Arrow River to the famous Kawarau Bungy Bridge. The trail has stunning views of the Remarkables mountain range and is a world class biking track. To really get the heart pumping, you can bungy jump off the Kawarau Bridge, the world’s first ever commercial bungy location! This bike ride is includes in our Kiwi Classic, Masterpiece and Pure South tours.

biking arrowtown

 6. Play a round of golf

Millbrook Resort is home to an award-winning golf course and is the location of the NZ Open – New Zealand’s most prestigious golf tournament. Millbrook has a whopping 27-holes so plenty to keep you busy. If your travelling companion isn’t quite as keen on golf as you are, Millbrook Resort also has a fantastic spa and several tasty cafes and restaurants.

 7. Sample the food at a variety of eateries

For such a small town, Arrowtown has an impressive array of eateries. Enjoy a scrumptious breakfast at The Dishery, right next to historic Chinese mining settlement, grab an award winning New Zealand meat pie from the Arrowtown Bakery, and finish off with a mouth-watering slow cooked meal from Slow Cuts. These are just a couple of our favourite places to eat in Arrowtown but with so many to choose from, you’ll need to sample the local cuisine yourself to make your own judgements!

 8. Enjoy a cold beer in the sun

Arrowtown has lots of great bars, and they are the perfect place to sit back and relax with a cold drink in hand while taking in the views. The Fork and Tap is the locals favourite – with a large sunny outdoor area, a great range of drinks and yummy food. For gin lovers, check out the Gin Bar at the local cinema. Whilst not your traditional location to have a cocktail, Arrowtown’s Dorothy Brown’s cinema also features a rooftop Gin Bar where you can try local Arrowtown-brewed gins while enjoying elevated views over the township. If you’re out after dark and enjoy live music, check out The Blue Door. A small underground bar, The Blue Door frequently has local artists playing live and a cosy atmosphere.

 9. Check out the museum

History lovers, this one’s for you! The Lakes District Museum located on the main street of Arrowtown has a fascinating collection of displays on the history of the town. Including the Maori history, early European settlers, and the Chinese miners’ history, a trip to the museum in an interesting an informative experience.

10. Take in the Autumn colours

Arrowtown is picturesque at any time of year, but nothing beats the stunning colours of Arrowtown’s tree-lined streets in the Autumn. Between the months of March and May, Arrowtown is transformed into a vibrant display of oranges, reds and yellows and is the most beautiful place to view the Autumn colours in New Zealand. If you’re not sure what time of year you would like to visit Arrowtown, the answer is unquestionably Autumn!

arrowtown autumn 1

Where is Arrowtown?

Arrowtown is located a short 15-minute drive from the centre of Queenstown, or a 50-minute drive from Wanaka.

How do I get to Arrowtown from Queenstown?

The easiest way to get to Arrowtown from Queenstown is driving. If you don’t have a car, the local bus service departs hourly from town and only costs $5. Queenstown also has both Uber and regular taxi services which service Arrowtown as well.


If you want to experience not only Arrowtown but the rest of New Zealand as well, joining a guided tour is the ultimate way to do so. Join us on a New Zealand Trails tour to see all the highlights, tourist spots and the hidden gems that only the locals know about. We have created six incredible tours, ranging in length from 5 to 14 days and varying in activity level. From our original luxury walking tour, the World Heritage, to the action-packed Kiwi Classic. There’s our Masterpiece for the best New Zealand South Island itinerary out there, or for those short on time there’s the Pure South and The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure. Our  Sweet North trip explores the North Island and works perfectly in conjunction with any one of our South Island trips or equally as a trip in its own right.


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