Historic post office bucks trend of closures

 It was another busy morning for Arrowtown Post Office postal assistant Joan Sutton yesterday....
It was another busy morning for Arrowtown Post Office postal assistant Joan Sutton yesterday. PHOTO: DAISY HUDSON
Other post offices are closing their doors left, right and centre, but Arrowtown's historic post shop is bucking the trend.

The Arrowtown Post Office is the second-oldest post office operating on its original site in New Zealand, and following the closure of Queenstown's Camp St post shop in January, is now the only dedicated post shop in the Wakatipu.

According to its manager, Jane Douglas, its longevity is due to two factors - being independently owned, and support from the community.

"It is quite a unique thing," she said.

"I see us very much as a community hub."

There has been a postal service in Arrowtown since 1863.

The present post office was built in 1915.

In 1991 New Zealand Post pulled out of Arrowtown, and the Lakes District Museum took over the operation.

In 1995 the museum board negotiated the purchase of the building and has run it as a post office and gift shop ever since.

The Arrowtown Post Office in 1924. PHOTO: LAKES DISTRICT MUSEUM
The Arrowtown Post Office in 1924. PHOTO: LAKES DISTRICT MUSEUM
Mrs Douglas said the board had "definitely tried to make a go of it" and the post office was "very well patronised by most of the local businesses".

Museum director David Clarke said the board had "just managed to keep it above water".

"The new generation don't know about those battles to keep it open, so they need to support it. It's a break-even business."

The Post Office Market Day is held in Arrowtown each year to raise money for the maintenance of the building.

"The businesses and people of Arrowtown have ensured its survival but it has become increasingly difficult," Mr Clarke said.

At the end of January, NZ Post relocated its Queenstown postal services from its Camp St premises to the nearby post box lobby, the town centre's Night 'n Day stores, and Frankton's Summerfield's Pharmacy.

Kiwibank, which shared the premises, reopened at Five Mile shopping centre, in Frankton.

The Camp St closure left the town centre without a post office for the first time since the early days of European settlement.

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