Stepping back in time to the Gold Rush days of Arrowtown

Nestled into the hills of Central Otago is Arrowtown, sitting along side the banks of the Arrow River. It’s a very peaceful and unassuming river. It’s hard to believe that once apon a time it was filled with gold. Today you will find the remains of life lived long ago in this historic little gold rush town.

In 1862, a local shearer named Jack Tawa found gold in the river. Before long, gold rush took over and the town was full of miners all seeking their fortune. At the height of the gold rush, the population of this little town swelled to 7,000, nearly 3 times it’s current population.

Today, you’re unlikely to find much more than ‘flour gold’ in the river, but the remains of gold fever are still present and ‘X’ still marks the spot where Jack Tawa made his discovery.

It has become a very popular town with the tourists, and I can see why. It’s very picturesque with it’s little wooden and stone shops, tall shady trees lining the streets and spectacular mountains forming the perfect backdrop. I can just imagine horse drawn carts travelling up and down the road in times long ago.

We spend some time walking along the river’s edge. It’s 10:30am and the sun is only just starting to make its appearance over the hills. It would have been an easy river for mining, very flat with easy access. I understand why it would have been so popular – nothing like Skippers Canyon.

We then head to Provisions – a funky little cafe with an organic, home grown feel. Its a very popular place. We are only here for a coffee as we are heading elsewhere for lunch, but I later regret not getting a sticky bun or brioche donut to keep for afternoon tea. They look absolutely scrumptious.

We then spend some time looking around the old Chinese settlement. The cottages (if you could call them that, they are so tiny!) are fairly well preserved and it gives a glimpse into the past. Being so small, they would have been easier to heat in the cold winters, but wow. It’s pretty hard to image living like that. These guys were tough!

A lot of the Chinese miners didn’t come as settlers, but for the opportunities to ‘strike it rich’ and make money to return home with.

There are quite a few little houses in this settlement, as well as a small shop. They are well signposted with information about them all and makes for a fascinating little wander through the area.

Arrowtown is only a 20 minute drive from Queenstown, but if you don’t have a car, it is also connected by bus or you could join a day tour. The place is rich in history, very cute and definitely worth adding to your itinerary.

I have heard it is gorgeous in Autumn when all the leave turn gold. I might just have to come back.

3 thoughts on “Stepping back in time to the Gold Rush days of Arrowtown

  1. Pingback: Queenstown in the Winter for non Skiers – Exploring the Long White Cloud

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