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Arrowtown Walking Tracks

Walking Tracks

Arrowtown is renowned for its extensive range of historic and recreational walking tracks. A detailed map of the following tracks can be obtained from the Arrowtown Museum.

Arrow River Trail

Time: 50 mins return to bridge
Grade: Easy
Gear: Reasonable footwear recommended

Start by the Trails Notice Board at Butlers Green and walk diagonally to your left to cross a small footbridge over Bush Creek. Turn right and just around the corner towards the Arrow River this is another sign. Keeping to the left you will head on to a foot track that goes up and over the Arrow Irrigation Pipeline. The trail follows the pipeline for much of the way. This is a relaxing wander high above the Arrow River. 20 mins into the trail you will pass a spot where the Sawpit Gully stream falls down a picturesque waterfall (ideal spot for a rest). Not far on from this you'll reach the turn off to the Sawpit Gully trail, and 3 mins on from this point, you will reach the Norman Smith foot bridge where the trail joins the Macetown Road. You can either retrace your steps back to Arrowtown or return to Arrowtown via the Macetown 4WD road (some river crossings may be necessary).

Arrowtown Wildflowers: Riverside & Trackside is a guidebook to wildflowers around Arrowtown. Close-up photographs of 80 flowers, which bloom by the river and beside the tracks, are included in its 150 pages, along with an introduction and index. Accompanying text for each flowering plant gives the derivation of its common and botanical names and provides interesting vignettes on its history. The A6 sized full-colour book, which weighs only 200 grams, can fit easily in a back pocket, bag, or pack, has laminated covers, and iswire bound for ease of reference while walking on the tracks.

This guidebook and photographic souvenir of wildflowers around Arrowtown is available at the Lakes District Museum Bookshop, and the Arrowtown Post Office. The authors, Rita L. Teele, Benjamin W. Teele and Rebecca J. Lawrence, have donated their time to produce the book. Financial support for printing has come from several trusts and organisations that are listed inside the back cover of the book. All proceeds from sales go to the Lakes District Museum in Arrowtown.


Bush Creek Trail

Time: 1 hour return
Grade: Easy
Gear: Reasonable footwaer recommended

Start by the Trails Notice Board at Butlers Green and walk diagonally to your left to cross a small footbridge over Bush Creek. Then turn left and follow the dirt road west, the irrigation pipe is on your right. Approximately 5mins into the trail you will pass what remains of one of Arrowtown's old outdoor ice skating rinks. Continue up the road until you walk over the irrigation pipe and through a sheep gate. The trail now winds gently along next to Bush Creek. Look out for stone walls in the centre of the river. These were reportedly built by Chinese miners in an effort to divert the water from one side to the other. They then worked the dry side, always profitably. After 15 minutes, the trail will lead up over a footbridge where the Big Hill and Sawpit Gully trails start. Veer left at this point and continue along Bush Creek to the old water supply intake (1881). To return, retrace your steps back to Arrowtown.


Big Hill Trail

Time: 5-6 hours return
Grade: Medium - High Fitness
Gear: Full hiking gear recommended

This is a route rather than a well formed trail. The inexperienced tramper is best to access Macetown via the River Trail. This walk crosses private land. Landowner's property is to be respected at all times. Please remain on the trail. Strictly no dogs or trail bikes. Until the opening of the Macetown road in 1884, this trail was the main route over to Macetown. It often took days to reach the town battling harsh mountain weather and often an impassable track. Today the trail follows the old bridle trail and climbs steadily from Bush Creek for an hour to reach Eichardt's Flat where there are grand views over the Arrow Basin and Lake Hayes. Here the trail branches right to Sawpit Gully, but looking ahead two distinctive water races traverse the slpes towards Big Hill itself. The trail follows the races through dry tussock lands to a patch of mountain beech forest before climbing up to Big Hill Saddle, where Advance Peak stands out behind Macetown. From the Saddle drop down to the Eight Mile or Coronet Creek via a poled route. From here follow the road for a further 20 minutes upstream to Macetown or you can return to Arrowtown via the Arrow Gorge Road.


Sawpit Gully Trail

Time: 2-3 hour loop
Grade: Medium - High Fitness
Gear: Good hiking shoes recommended

This walk crosses private land. Landowner's property is to be respected at all times. Please remain on the trail. Strictly no dogs or mountain bikes or trail bikes. This is a great loop with a variety of scenery. The easier way to walk is to follow the Arrow River Trail first ie: approach it from an anticlockwise direction. The Arrow River trail sidles high above the river before you reach the turn off to Sawpit Gully. Once in Sawpit Gully itself parts of a water race are followed and piles of stone gold mining tailings are evident once down near the creek. The vegetation changes from beech forest pockets to tussock covered slopes interspersed with prickly matagouri, and the sharp pointed speargrass, common in the Central Otago landscape. Look out for the remains of an old stone hut on your right on a grassy terrace just before you begin to climb out of Sawpit Gully. The cottage was home to a succession of miners and serves as a good resting place. Up the hill you meet the Big Hill trail at Eichardt's Flat and walk down towards Arrowtown with Lake Hayes in full view.


Arrowtown Millennium Walk

Time: 1 hour
Grade: Easy
Gear: Comfortable shoes recommended

A 4.2km loop walkway along the banks of the Arrow River. This trail was built by the Otago Regional Council in 1998 to commemorate 150 years of European Settlement in Otago. It travels downstream passing the site of the Criterion Quartz Mining company, one of the first quartz mines in New Zealand which began extracting gold from there in the 1860's. It is a wide easy track overhung with Willow, Sycamore and Larch Trees. Part of this trail was the location for "The Gladden Fields" of Lord of the Rings. Form more information on Lord of the Rings sites, you can purchase "The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook from the Lakes District Museum Shop. This trail is maintained by the Otago Regional Council.


Macetown 4WD Road

Time: 6 hours return
Grade: Medium - high fitness
Gear: Full hiking gear recommended

This is a 4WD road which crosses the Arrow River many times. Vehicles should not go in alone. The river can rise rapidly when raining and should not be accessed during the winter months. Walkers and bikers and horses take care of vehicles on the Road. There are many historical points of interest along the way, almost a story at every bend. It's worthwhile purchasing a small booklet from the Lakes District Museum which locates and describes the historic features along the way. The book is called "Macetown and the Arrow Gorge”.


Hayes Creek Trail

Time: From Arrowtown, allow 5 hrs
Grade: Medium - High Fitness
Gear: Full hiking gear recommended

For experienced walkers, keep to the poled route and respect private property.


Lake Hayes Walkway

Time: 2 hour loop
Grade: Medium Fitness
Gear: Comfortable shoes recommended

Easy grade walk on a well formed track providing outstanding views of the lake and surrounding environs. Please keep dogs on a leash around the wetlands area which is one of the few sites you can observe the Australasian Crested Grebe. Parking and access.


McDonnell Trail

Time: 60+ mins one way
Grade: Easy
Gear: Comfortable shoes recommended

An easy and pleasant loop walk affording intimate glimpses of the immediate Arrowtown area. Starting from the centre of town, walk along Buckingham Street, then Bedford Street, then Centennial Avenue past the golf course to the junction with McDonnell Road. Then return along McDonnell Road into Arrowtown and back to berkshire Street. It's a flat and easy walk along a formed track alongside the road.


Motatapu Track

Time: Three days
Grade: Challenging
Gear: Full hiking, survival and overnight gear mandatory


This three day track is a serious walk suitable for experienced trampers only. It takes you from Arrowtown to Wanaka via Macetown, Roses Saddle and the Fern Burn. Opened Easter 2008. Please contact Department of Conservation offices for further information.


New Chum Track

Time: 1 hr 30
Grade: Medium - high fitness
Gear: Good hiking shoes required

This new track crosses Glencoe Station. To access it, walk up Tobins Track till approximately halfway up on the right hand side there is an orange marker and a gate indicating the start of New Chum Track. This is a poled route (orange markers) and follows the ridgeline of Glencoe Station before descending into gullies and streams. The exit point is by the Norman Smith Bridge on the Macetown trail and from then, its a walk along the irrigation pipe trail back to the town centre.


Tobins Track

Time: 30 mins each way
Grade: Medium/Easy
Gear: Reasonable footwear required

A brisk walk to the top of Tobins track will reward you with unsurpassed views of Arrowtown and the further Wakatipu basin. Tobins Track entrance is at the bottom of Ford Street (off Centennial Avenue and Bedford Street corner). A car park is located on the reserve. The bridge takes you across the Arrow River. At the top of Tobins Track is a trig station and two seats provided by the Stevenson family for walkers to enjoy the view and rest awhile.

Halfway up Tobins Track on the left hand side is the entrance to New Chum Track.

At the top of Tobins Track another trail goes east back down to the Arrow River and then follows the river back to the bottom bridge.


Manse Road Walkway

Time: 20 mins each way
Grade: Easy
Gear: Comfortable footwear recommended

This new walkway running beside the road allows users to walk/bike to or from Manse Road (near Millbrook Resort) into Arrowtown. Walkers can also divert off the trail through to the Chinese Village and onto Arrowtown Millennium Walkway or Bush Creek.