Arrowtown is the perfect place for a winter family adventure – well it is any time of year really! There are so many things to do to keep kids entertained, much of it free. Check out our top tips for family friendly activities in Arrowtown.
Arrowtown has a prime position situated right next to a crystal clear river and a vast mountain wilderness criss-crossed by tracks. The trail next to the Arrow River is ideal for family walks – it’s a formed gravel trail with no hills to speak of, and you can push a stroller along it. Bigger kids will love swinging on a rope swing over the river…but we don’t recommend jumping in at this time of year with the temperature below freezing!
You’re probably going to need wheels if you want to travel further afield on our many cycle trails. Both Better by Bike and Arrowtown Bike Hire can rent you bikes or e-bikes, sized for every member of the family, and you can also add a bike trailer or a child seat for the littlies! Make sure you wrap up warm, it can be pretty chilly out there.
Think carefully before taking kids into the Remarkable Sweet Shop – you may find it hard to drag them away again. This old-fashioned shop, a local institution, has the largest selection of confectionery in New Zealand. They've got all the international favourites as well as hand-made, Arrowtown-made nougat and fudge and much more.
And that’s not all when it comes to indulging a sweet tooth, at Patagonia Chocolates you’ll find locally made chocolate and absolutely delicious – and award-winning – hand-made ice cream and sorbets in exotic flavours that will appeal to every palate.
Dorothy Browns is the cutest little cinema (& bookstore) around and it's an independent boutique picture theatre. It has all the important features for children like popcorn, ice cream and Jaffas, as well as appealing to the grown-ups with their local wine, craft beers and cheese platters, all of which can be taken into the theatre with you. Grab a blanket and settle in!
The gold rush that contributed to the unique character that Arrowtown is famous for, may have been more than 150 years ago, but there’s still gold in the Arrow River. You can travel back in time to Arrowtown’s mining heyday by panning for gold yourself. Hire a gold pan from the Lakes District Museum for just a few dollars and try out your luck.
Your chances of going home with gold skyrocket if you get a panning lesson from the real-life miners at RAW, next to the Night n Day, because they guarantee it. You can also hire a sluice box and shovel there or take a private tour to the river where a guide will show you the ropes and help you find the best spots.
Locals Tip: Try panning after a good rain as gold is more like to have been dislodged further upriver and carried down.
The whole family will be happy at the many Arrowtown eateries that have kids’ menus. That’s not to say youngsters won’t find something to suit them everywhere, it’s just that some go the extra mile. Check out the menus at Slow Cuts, Postmasters Cottage Cafe, The Dishery or the Hole in One at Millbrook, the kids will love what they see. They won't want to miss out on Bendix Stables, where the kids not only get a special menu, they can toast marshmallows to make there own s’mores at the outdoor fireplace!
Take a look around the Chinese Settlement and you’ll be left wondering how the gold miners survived the bitter winters in this shady gully. Kids will love exploring the tiny, ramshackle huts at this free attraction. These restored buildings from over 120 years ago are recognized as one of the Tohu Whenua landmarks that tell our stories; and what a story they have to tell. Find out more with a trip to the Lakes District Museum, a hands-on treasure house of history.
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