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Top Things to do Arrowtown

Located in the beautiful Otago region of the South Island, Arrowtown is a charismatic destination that begs travellers to explore the greater expanses around the Queenstown region. Packed with the charm and history of its gold mining heritage, Arrowtown is flanked by the Arrow River, offering its visitors a picturesque scene with surrounding rolling mountains. A trip to Arrowtown might see you ambling around the historic Chinese settlement, taking in the architecture of the traditional bakery and sweet shop, or picking up sparkling jewels from the local gold store. Find the perfect things to do in Arrowtown below to complete your South Island adventure.

Top 10 Things to do in Arrowtown, NZ

Explore Otago’s Arrowtown with our top 5 things to do.

From its quaint little stores lining Buckingham Street, to the rugged green hills rolling across every horizon, Arrowtown defines the New Zealand small town experience.

Nestled between historic gold rush buildings and pleasant little streets, the town’s pebble stone paths lead to a variety of hidden treasures. Arrowtown serves as transportation back in time, and at only 20 minutes drive from Queenstown CBD, it makes for the perfect day trip from New Zealand’s adventure capital.

We’ve compiled a list of five of the town’s most iconic attractions worth a sticky beak.

Top 10 Things to do in Arrowtown, NZ - Ride and Bike Self-Guided Tour

1. Ride and Bike Self-Guided Tour

Location: Arrowtown, NZ

If you like riding your bike, scenic views, doing things at your own pace and wouldn’t mind adding a splash of wine, the Ride and Wine Bike tour might be just the thing to top your to-do list.

Covering 14 kilometres of the beautiful Arrowtown surroundings in about two hours (depending on the rider), the tour is relatively easy on the legs, even for the less keen cyclists among us.

The tour trail includes meandering alongside two rivers, crossing purpose build suspension bridges, passing picturesque historic cottages, and pottering through scenic open farmland, all beautifully framed by views of the surrounding mountains and breathtaking canyons.

The trail then leads you to the historic Kawarau Bridge to watch bungy jumpers take the courageous plunge at the first commercial bungy site in the world, with local adventure operator AJ Hackett.

Two kilometres from Kawarau Bridge lies Gibbston Valley Winery where you will be joined by some experts to tour the wine caves and sample some of their local selections.

Top 10 Things to do in Arrowtown, NZ - Arrowtown Historic Chinese Settlement

2. Arrowtown Historic Chinese Settlement

Location: Buckingham Street, Arrowtown, NZ

The Chinese inhabitants of the late 1800’s further instilled Arrowtown’s rich history during the gold rush era, with the first Chinese Immigrants arriving in the mid-1860s, having been recruited by provincial authorities.

The partially restored Chinese Settlement along the banks of Bush Creek in Arrowtown is a beautifully preserved reminder of the region’s visitors throughout the 1800’s, making for the perfect historic day trip.

The settlement provides a scenic adventure with the opportunity to learn about the lives of Chinese settlers from information boards located throughout.

The Chinese Settlement can be viewed as a part of the Arrowtown tour departing from Queenstown, passing a number of icons such as the Shotover River, Coronet Peak Ski Field, and Millbrook resort, and includes a photo stop at Lake Hayes (the mirror lake).

Top 10 Things to do in Arrowtown, NZ - Lakes District Museum and Gallery

3. Lakes District Museum and Gallery

Location: 49 Buckingham Street, Arrowntown, NZ

Before you can truly tick off Arrowtown as a ‘been there, done that’ you really must visit the Lakes District Museum and learn about the region’s storied history.

Established in 1948 as a Centennial of Otago project, the Museum capitalises on the former gold mining town’s rich heritage to set the scene, with a strong hands-on focus which paints an authentic picture of early Maori life, right through to the pioneering days of European settlers and gold miners.

Despite being one of New Zealand’s leading small museums, the working displays span over a substantial two floors and incorporate three historic buildings.

In addition to the working displays, the Museum also offers Gold Pan Hire for $3, so you can try your luck in the famed Arrow River.

Situated smack bang in the middle of Arrowtown it isn’t hard to find this little gem, and once you’re done soaking up all the history, you’ll be glad you did.

Top 10 Things to do in Arrowtown, NZ - Arrowntown Bakery & Cafe

4. Arrowntown Bakery & Cafe

Location: 1 Buckingham Street, Arrowtown, NZ

The Arrowtown Bakery makes for the perfect place to stop and pick up a snack or a light lunch during a busy day sightseeing. The pies, in particular, have become something of a novelty, developing a reputation in the region as one of New Zealand’s best.

As a downside to the reputation, the bakery can often draw crowds and it’s highly recommended to get in early if you’re after one of their more popular varieties.

The bakery is located right at the end of the town’s main drag, just a short stroll from the primary parking lot.

Top 10 Things to do in Arrowtown, NZ - New Orleans Hotel

5. New Orleans Hotel

Location: 27 Buckingham Street, Arrowtown, NZ

The hotel was established in 1866, just 4 years after a young Maori shearer by the name of Jack Tewa stumbled upon gold in the region.

The Hotel followed an influx of hopeful miners during the gold rush, with as many as 1500 camped next to Arrow River by the end of 1862 in need of accommodation.

Steeped in the region’s history, New Orleans Hotel is set right in the heart of town, and being just a golden nugget’s throw from Arrow River, it occupies some prime real-estate.