Short walks: Arrowtown

The Chinese Settlement track winds past huge old trees that line the Arrow River.
The Chinese Settlement track winds past huge old trees that line the Arrow River.
The Chinese Settlement track winds past huge old trees that line the Arrow River.
The Chinese Settlement track winds past huge old trees that line the Arrow River.

Gold was discovered in the Arrow River bed in 1862 by shearer Jack Tewa, and a shantytown was quickly established close to the river only to be washed away in a flood the following year.

Part of the reconstructed Chinese Settlement near Arrowtown. Photo: Getty Images.
Part of the reconstructed Chinese Settlement near Arrowtown. Photo: Getty Images.
The settlement was rebuilt on higher ground, and the population swiftly rose to more than 7000, with further settlements at Macetown, Skippers and Bullendale. Today, over 60 buildings remain from the gold-mining period including a row of quaint miners’ cottages dwarfed by huge old trees well over 100 years old.

The cool Central Otago climate makes it one of the few places in New Zealand to experience spectacular autumn colour, and this is one of the best times to visit the area, being between the summer peak and the winter ski season. Around Arrowtown are several walks of varying lengths, and they all start by the river behind the shops in the main street, Buckingham St.

Excellent short walks in the South Island.
Excellent short walks in the South Island.
AT A GLANCE

Chinese Settlement Walk

Grade: Easy
Time: 30 minutes return
What: The life of the Chinese miner on a New Zealand goldfield recreated
Directions: Signposted from the car park by the river behind the Buckingham St shops. The Chinese goldminers occupied the margins of society socially and physically, and although 1200 Chinese arrived to rework old claims in the Wakatipu Basin in 1869, very little remains of their humble abodes. However, at Arrowtown the small Chinese section  of town has been preserved and in some places reconstructed. As well as simple stone cottages there is a tiny store, and the excellent information panels enhance this easy walk.

THE BOOK

Excellent short walks in the South Island updated edition, by Peter Janssen, published by New Holland, RRP$32.99

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