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  • Day90

    Arrowtown, Where History Meets Nature

    March 9 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    When planning our trip, Queenstown seemed to always come up as New Zealand’s #1 destination spot so we wanted to see what all the fuss was about. But as I searched for places to stay, I had trouble finding a place that was in our price range. Sometimes, I find better and more economical choices outside of a hot spot so I looked further afield and found a place in a gem of a town, 29 minutes away from busy Queenstown, called Arrowtown.

    Arrowtown is a quaint heritage village surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery. The Main Street is made up of a row of historic buildings which lead to a tree-lined street and a row of 19th century miners’ cottages. The town started during an 1869s rush for gold in the Arrow River. Fifteen hundred miners worked here, including many Chinese, who built a separate village by the river.

    The remains of the Chinese settlement are located on the outskirts of Arrowtown and we were free to walk through the area and read fascinating information boards. Most 19th century Chinese miners were poorly welcomed and treated badly by European settlers so they lived away from the main town in a collection of very crude huts. They made their little homes out of whatever they could find. There was a social hut in the centre plus a couple of supply/grocery stores and some gardens so, in effect, it was their own self-sufficient community.

    While viewing the ramshackle huts, it made us think of the hard work and harsh conditions that the Chinese workers had to endure. Who would want to live in those tiny shacks...Throughout Arrowtown’s downtown, there were many old photos of the settlement. The men looked pretty ragged and there were no women in any of the photos. Pretty basic lifestyle.

    From the town, there is a lovely walk called the Arrowtown Anniversary Walk that goes by old gold digging sites and a Lord of the Rings trilogy location. We walked on a section of it by the river.

    The Museum was a must do for us so we made sure that we visited it. It is housed in the former bank and gives a lot of information about the town and the type of mining that they did here - mainly panning for gold. Downstairs, there were excellent displays showing life in a gold rush town. Upstairs there was a wonderful modern-day fibre arts exhibit.

    We really enjoyed walking in and around the town. Two nights wasn’t enough though, as there are so many places to explore and wonderful trails that we would have liked to have tried out.

    So happy that we ended up here and not in touristy Queenstown!
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