When you think about autumn in New Zealand, you think about Arrowtown. In this historic mining town there’s not just the glint of gold in the river, there’s a dazzling display of gold in the leaves as the trees put on a show that’s unsurpassed in this country. But there’s more to do in Arrowtown in autumn than gaze in awe at the leaves. This year our legendary autumn festival can't go ahead but there are still plenty of ways to embrace the season. Here are a few ideas!
There aren’t many small towns more photogenic than Arrowtown – there's a good reason we were declared New Zealand's Most Beautiful Small Town in 2020. In fact as the leaves framing the historic streets, the Arrow River and tranquil Lake Hayes turn vibrant yellow, red and amber, it starts to get hard to take a bad photo. Favourite spots for autumn colour include the old police hut near the Chinese Settlement, the massive oak tree at Buckingham Green and the avenue of trees at Millbrook.
The cooler weather of autumn makes it the perfect time to bike the many trails around Arrowtown. Wheel along the purpose-built River Bridges trail to the wineries at Gibbston and taste the latest vintage. Take a gentle spin beside the Arrow River or around Lake Hayes. If you’re fit and you're up for something more technically challenging, try the brand new 50km back-country Coronet Loop or head up the Arrow River to the gold-mining ghost town of Macetown. You can hire a mountainbike or ebike in Arrowtown.
Arrowtown is the hub of a huge network of hill-walking tracks. In just half an hour from downtown Arrowtown you can get some serious altitude, giving breathtaking views down into the Whakatipu Basin or across the mountains and valleys of Mahu Whenua. Bring your walking shoes and take your pick from a range of tracks from straightforward ambles to experts-only expeditions. These mountains are going to be covered in snow soon, so take the opportunity while you can!
Autumn’s the perfect time to sneak in a bit of golf before the winter chill sets in. Arrowtown’s four courses rate among the best in New Zealand, but which will you choose? Exclusive The Hills, home of the New Zealand Open, with world class sculptures dotting the course? Gorgeous Millbrook with its two full championship courses and attached resort where non-players can indulge themselves at the day spa? Or Arrowtown Golf Club with its famously narrow fairways, spectacular views and friendly club vibe?
Shopping is a rare pleasure in Arrowtown’s boutiques, all the more so when our historic main street has a stunning backdrop of autumn leaves. You’ll find unique, locally made gifts you won’t get at the chain stores, an eclectic range of clothing and footwear, and delicious hand-made sweet treats and Central Otago, New Zealand and international wines. Our shops are independently owned and operated, so you'll also get excellent service and advice, often from the owners themselves.
For more information about all these activities and more, call in to the visitor centre at the Lakes District Museum in Buckingham Street.
All photos APBA except: Photography, Tom May; Biking, Queenstown Trails Trust; Golf, Destination Queenstown.
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