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Visit Arrowtown

Home > Queenstown > Weekend Escapes
by Max Towle (subscribe)
It's 1977. Dancing is illegal. A young boy fights hard against pride and prejudice in a feminist society.
Published March 27th 2012
It is perpetually autumn in Arrowtown. At least, that's how I remember it. The fall colours seemed to cover the town's high street in a golden blanket, crunching under foot and cascading down in a strong, cold gust of wind from the north-east.

The autumnal colours

Arrowtown is located close to Queenstown, the snow-sports mecca and backpacker's paradise of New Zealand. For some, Arrowtown is a quiet rest-stop, an antiquated rural community that seems trapped in a permanent time-warp. The nostalgic town hall, the antique street signs and lampposts all hark back to a bygone era. There is even a sweet shop, filled with every sort imaginable - gobstoppers, sherbet dusts et al.

But it is this timeless quality of Arrowtown which affords the visitor an escape from the city hub and its modern excess. There are others like it in the south island - humble, rustic townships with high streets lined with similarly crumbling facades, but none as textbook as Arrowtown's. Naturally, the tourist boom in New Zealand has seen new hotels and motels spring up in the area, however, these new structures have admirably managed to maintain the modest integrity of the region.

There are stunning golf courses to be found nearby, as well as plenty of picturesque walking-tracks. In another nostalgic throwback, tourists are also allowed the opportunity to pan the local river for gold, a trade that historically brought the founders of the town great riches. However, this is more of a gimmick, as the river was long ago stripped of any potential riches. The two main restaurants on the main drag are also highly recommended. But the hidden treasure of Arrowtown is undoubtedly the tiny Dorothy Brown's cinema, also on the high street, which shows the latest independent or foreign films in a quaint, up-close and personal setting.

Of course, a visit to the spectacular Arrowtown should not apply to the change of the seasons, but such personal, vivid memories would always result in my autumnal recommendation.
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Where: Arrowtown, New Zealand
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