Arrowtown is tucked into a corner at the foot of the steep Crown Range. It’s a quaint village that takes pride in the history of the area, with around 70 buildings from the original gold rush, a partially restored Chinese village from the 1880s, and a small but fantastic museum. Jack Tewa, or Māori Jack, as he was known, found gold along the Arrow River in 1861, and when William Fox, an American, was seen selling large quantities of the precious metal in nearby Clyde shortly afterward, the hunt was on. Eventually a large party of prospectors stumbled on Fox and his team of 40 miners. The secret was out, miners rushed to stake their claims, and Arrowtown was born. On the first gold escort in January 1863 a whopping 12,000 ounces of gold were carried out. At the height of the rush there were more than 30,000 hardy souls in this tiny settlement. After the gold rush ended in 1865, the place became another sleepy rural town until tourism created a second boom. Each April, Arrowtown celebrates the Autumn Festival when the trees are at their most spectacular, and includes the NZ Gold Panning championships. On a stroll along Buckingham Street, you can stop in the old post and telegraph office, still open for business. Take time to explore some of the lanes and arcades, filled with cafés and boutique shops, drop in to the Jade & Opal Factory shop to see hand carving done on-site and to Patagonia chocolates to see chocolate being made; as if that’s not enough the ice-cream there’s delicious, too (below Buckingham Street on Ramshaw Lane).
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