Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – New Zealand chapter on Queenstown and Wanaka has to say about Arrowtown:
“Beloved by day-trippers from Queenstown, exceedingly quaint Arrowtown sprang up in the 1860s following the discovery of gold in the Arrow River. Today the town retains more than 60 of its original wooden and stone buildings, and has pretty, tree-lined avenues, excellent galleries and an expanding array of fashionable shopping opportunities.
The only gold being flaunted these days is on credit cards, and surrounded by a bonanza of daytime tourists, you might grow wary of the quaint historical ambience. Instead take advantage of improved public transport to stay in the town, and use it as a base for exploring Queenstown and the wider region. That way you can enjoy Arrowtown’s history, charm and excellent restaurants when the tour buses have de-camped back to Queenstown.
Arrowtown has NZ’s best example of a gold-era Chinese settlement. Interpretive signs explain the lives of Chinese ‘diggers’ during and after the gold rush, while restored huts and shops make the story more tangible. Subjected to significant racism, the Chinese often had little choice but to rework old tailings rather than seek new claims.”
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
I had high expectations for Queenstown, and almost zero for Arrowtown, and in the end, it was the time we spent in Arrowtown that was the most memorable. I could put the difference down to the weather, sunny in Arrowtown, stormy in Queenstown, but that would be too simplistic.
We enjoyed the historic buildings along the main street in Arrowtown, the walk along the river was delightful and refreshing, we had a great meal on the outdoor patio at the Fork and Tap, but the true surprise was the Chinese Settlement. After all the discrimination and neglect that was visited upon the Chinese immigrants during the past, it was terrific to see how they were honoured there.
We enjoyed our stay at the Kinross Winery at nearby Gibbston, but had we booked known to book accommodation in Arrowtown in advance, we would have had more time to do some hiking around the little town. Apparently there is an easy hike that takes visitors up high above the valley, and the views are very rewarding.