New Zealand is filled with quaint little towns where old buildings and European style gardens make you feel like you are somewhere in the English countryside. The small historic village of Arrowtown, located just outside of Queenstown, has to be one of the best around, although it wasn’t always so pretty.
Arrowtown began as a rough gold mining town, popping up out of nowhere when gold was discovered in the Arrow River in the 1860’s. The riverbanks were filled with prospectors camped along the river, and the town itself popped up to service them. This would have given the town more of a wild west feel than that of a quaint English village, however the buildings and streets were made to remind the European settlers of home, with little wooden cottages and tree lined avenues. After the gold ran out the town declined, only existing to service the local farming community, but from the 1950’s the town reemerged as a tourist town, and the old buildings and cottages restored as holiday homes, cafes and art galleries. As such, Arrowtown today has an interesting mix – historic mining town meets cute little English village.
Arrowtown is only a short 2o minute drive from Queenstown, so it makes for a great spot for a morning outing to enjoy the history, browse the little boutique shops and galleries, and indulge at one of the many great cafes and restaurants. There is also plenty to do in and around Arrowtown, so you could make a whole day out of it, or even stay here instead of Queenstown to get away from the huge tourist crowd.
We went to Arrowtown around mid morning after a drive to Coronet Peak and had coffee and cake at one of the cafes, before wandering around the town. I loved the tree lined avenues, the cute old cottages and the relaxed atmosphere. It felt like the sort of place where you could never be stressed out. The old shop fronts along the main street have been beautifully preserved, and it was just lovely to walk around, browsing the shops and feeling like I had gone back in history.
If you need a break from the tourist crowds of Queenstown, head out for a drive to Arrowtown. It is a lovely spot.