Arrowtown is a small quaint New Zealand town just a short drive from Queenstown. Let native Kiwi Delilah show you around in this Everyday Postcard from Down Under.
With seven continents, nearly 200 countries, and more than 7.5 billion people in the world, there is a lot to experience. The world is so vast and amazing that even the most avid traveler with a large bank account couldn’t truly do it justice in one lifetime!
Through the Everyday Postcard series, one of the world’s everyday wanderers shares postcard-worthy photos and real-life travel experiences to bring a piece of the big wide world to you.
Although she’s currently traveling through Southeast Asia and away from her native New Zealand, Delilah takes us on a tour of postcard-perfect Arrowtown.
Arrowtown looks as if it were from a fairytale! This quaint town near to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand hugely contrasts their neighbouring city. The lakes and the greenery gives a peaceful atmosphere, there is no shortage of places to enjoy a coffee and brunch, and its size means it’s so walkable. Definitely one of my favourite places in New Zealand!
Meet Delilah Hart
Delilah Hart is a writer, travel blogger and photographer. Delilah founded the travel blog, Our Travel Mix. While she calls New Zealand home, she is currently travelling the world. At present, Delilah is in Southeast Asia, and wrote this article in Phnom Penh, Cambodia!
In addition to her blog, be sure to follow Delilah’s adventures via social media:
For those of us who haven't visited yet, give us an overview of Arrowtown.
Arrowtown is located in Central Otago in the South Island of New Zealand. It is only a 20-minute drive from Queenstown, well-known for its adrenaline-pumping adventure activities, awe-inspiring scenery, and great wine.
Arrowtown has gained popularity in recent years for being a great half-day trip from Queenstown and an escape from the city.
Related Article: Everyday Postcard from Queenstown, New Zealand
How did you decide to visit Arrowtown?
To Kiwis (our colloquial term for “New Zealander”), Arrowtown is known to be one of the quaint towns for your bucket list. In my teenage years, I visited Arrowtown with my family as part of a road trip through the South Island. I immediately fell in love with Arrowtown’s charm, and I vowed I would return again.
Surely enough, I returned. The journey through Arrowtown has become a popular one; it breaks up the drive between Queenstown and the up-and-coming neighbouring town of Wanaka. Since it’s so close to Queenstown and on the way to Wanaka, visiting Arrowtown is a no-brainer.
What's the best way to get to Arrowtown?
Most visitors will arrive in New Zealand in Auckland, the major city. The best way to see the country is by driving. Luckily, New Zealand is a small country, which means a road trip is unquestionably doable.
The drive from Auckland to Queenstown is 1,500 km (930 miles), and to get from the North Island to the South Island, take a short ferry from Wellington. Most NZ road trips will take two to three weeks, which gives you time to stop off at the most towns for one to two nights. Although two weeks is enough to road trip the country, you’ll definitely get a chance to see more the longer you stay.
If your time is limited, fly from Auckland to Queenstown. The flight is short, coming in at less than two hours. If you live on the east coast of Australia, you may be lucky enough to catch a direct flight to Queenstown Airport.
Then from Queenstown airport, it’s a quick 20-minute drive to Arrowtown. If renting a car is out of the question, day tours are available. The public transport option is excellent as well, and super easy. The Orbus service also operates to Arrowtown. Purchase your Orbus card at the airport – getting to Arrowtown will only cost you $2 NZD.
Pro Tip: For an alternative return from Arrowtown to Queenstown, consider a self-guided bike experience.
How did you travel around Arrowtown?
One huge advantage of Arrowtown is its walkability. The population of Arrowtown is 2500+, which is a small town, even in New Zealand standards. There is no need for a car once you get into Arrowtown, and you’ll see so much more by walking at your own pace.
Plan to spend a couple of hours to half a day in Arrowtown. There are places to stay if you want to escape from the busier towns and relax.
What sights cannot be missed when visiting Arrowtown?
There’s a selection of activities in Arrowtown to keep you busy.
The main attraction of Arrowtown is the Chinese Settlement. Arrowtown was a gold mining town, prospering in the mid-1800s. Many Chinese miners settled at one end of town. To this day, their settlement has been restored for visitors to the town.
To learn more about the town’s history, head to the Lakes District Museum. The museum is very informative on the gold rush period, as well as general New Zealand Maori history. Pan for gold here too, which is always a hit with the kids. Although, you may not have as much luck as they did back in the 1800s!
After venturing through the Chinese Settlement, follow the Queenstown Trail to Arrow River. Catch the Old Police Camp Building on the way.
When you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the main streets for shopping and great food. Arrowtown has amazing places to have brunch. It’s a close call, but The Chop Shop has got to be my favourite place to dine there.
What was your favorite moment in Arrowtown?
The first time I visited Arrowtown, there was some mist that settled just above Arrow River. It was a simple moment, but it made me stop in my tracks and take a moment to appreciate nature’s beauty.
Did you bring home any memorable souvenirs during your trip?
The Remarkable Sweet Shop is the perfect place to buy souvenirs. Excuse the pun, but their fudge is remarkable! They make small, packaged blocks to take back with you as souvenirs. The hardest part is choosing the flavour(s)! Be sure to try creme brulee, cookies and cream, and kiwifruit sorbet.
Another great souvenir is New Zealand Jade, known to locals as pounamu. There’s The Jade and Opal Factory right in Arrowtown, which is a great place to buy traditional jewellery. You can wear it with you as you travel, and it won’t take up any more weight or space in your suitcase.
Note that authentic pounamu is not cheap. Yes, you can find cheaper “greenstone” in many souvenir shops in New Zealand, but if you’re looking for good quality pounamu, it will come at a price.
What's one thing travelers can't forget to pack when they visit Arrowtown?
A packing list for Arrowtown will vary greatly depending on the time of year you are visiting. Many travellers compare New Zealand’s climate to that of Vancouver’s. During the summer months from December to February, the sun will be quite hot at 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit). Be sure to cover your shoulders, wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
Winter nights can drop below 0 degrees (32 degrees Fahrenheit), with highs of around 7 degrees Celsius (45 Fahrenheit). During the months of June to August, layers are essential! Merino thermals paired with long pants and a puffer jacket should suffice. Gloves and a beanie will really come in handy too.
Autumn and Spring sit around temperatures of the mid-teens (in the 50s using Fahrenheit). You’ll need a light to a warm jacket and long pants. If the sun is out during the late afternoon, you may be fine to forgo the jacket.