The museum is spread over a few of the old buildings of the town.
The Bank of New Zealand building, the bank's stables and the town's baker's oven from around 1875 and the old Post Office as well.
You can see displays and read about the arrival of the early European Settlers, as well as the Gold rush era, and most interesting, the information of early Maoris living in the Southern Lakes District.
Situated in the museum as well, is the Information Office which is well worth a visit.
HANDS ON CREATIVITY - MAKE YOUR OWN MOMENTO.
For something a little out of the ordinary, you can visit this workshop and make your own piece of artwork, while in Arrowtown.
From silks, to felts to drawing. All the material is provided. The surrounding hills and colours will give you motivation for sure. An attendant is there to help and give you ideas. I found this to be a very original and extremely fun way to make your own momento to take home.
You can also make mosaics, embroidery, painting, and other types of folk art, including fabric painting etc.
The atmosphere in the workshop is fun and your creation will be a special memory for you.
If you are visiting in the summer months, this makes rather an exciting and nice drive. At the Arrow Junction, on Highway 6, take the Crown Range road. This will take you on a very windy road up the hill to a wonderful lookout where you can stop and look back over Arrowtown and see how it is nestled in to the mountains. This photo is taken from the lookout.
This road is mostly ok during summer months but in winter, especially in icy/snowy conditions the road is extremely dangerous and often closed. I don't recomment you try to drive this road during winter.
The Chinese Settlement is on the very outskirts of Arrowtown, at Bush Creek and is free of charge to visit. Here you can explore the remains of the settlement that was home to the many Chinese goldminers. You can see inside the basic little huts which must have been cramped, cold and uncomfortable. Some of the walls inside the huts are little more than branches woven together, some are made from stone, whilst others have old newspapers pasted over boards, which I have seen in other old huts and houses of the time. It would have gone some way to keeping the drafts out.
The Chinese lived separately from the main township, as despite being hard working and honest, they were viewed with suspicion by the other miners and would have encountered much prejudice. The settlement has it's own stores and small cemetery. Many of the men living in the settlement would have intended their time here to be a temporary one, a few years hard work on the gold fields before returning home as prosperous men. However, the harsh reality was that most of them never saw their homeland again.
This museum specializes in the gold mining history of the local Arrowtown area.
A unique variety of exhibits present an authentic picture of early Maori in the Southern Lakes district, of the harsh pioneering days of the European settlers, and the exciting gold rush era of the mid to late 1800s.
The Lakes District Museum has beginnings which are set in the town's gold mining past, and over the years has developed into a visitor experience with something for everyone.
Today the museum welcomes around 50,000 visitors each year who enjoy the hands-on exhibits, special exhibitions, research facilities, education programme, information and retail outlet.
There is a small admission charge to visit the museum while admission to the information and retail outlet is free.
The Lakes District Museum runs the Arrowtown Post Office (built 1915) situated opposite the museum. This is one of the few remaining post offices in New Zealand still called a 'Post and Telegraph' office .
The Post Office provides a full mail service along with mail products, postcards and souvenirs.
Open daily from 9am - 4.30pm. Tel:
The Lakes District Museum is an excellent place to visit - heaps of local history is presented here, and the museum (part of which is in the old Bank Of New Zealand building) doubles as Arrowtown's visitor information centre too. They have a street scene exhibition, where you can see recreated an old nineteenth century schoolhouse, shops etc and of course lots of history and information on how the township evolved through the goldmining years.
Right opposite the museum is the towns Post Office, which is actually run by the museum. A full post office, the historic building is one of the only "Post and Telegraph Offices" left in New Zealand.
The Chinese were an important part of the 1800s gold rush. They had quite a large settlement here in Arrowtown and it is the only one in the region that has been thoroughly researched and in places, restored. You can walk through the reserve, to the west of the main street, at your leisure and read about the archaeological sites on informative little boards. This historic reserve offers a rare glimpse into another side of New Zealand's history that not even many Kiwis know about.
This is perhaps the most famous building in Arrowtown located at one end of the shopping area, and is a must see. There is a souvenir shop within the post office which used to sell Lord of the Rings stamps but they have been snapped up long ago.
St Paul's has remained almost unchanged in over one hundred years. In 1973 a stained glass window was gifted by Mrs Sally Lusk as a memorial to her late hubby. The window in a modern theme depicts the trees, hills and valleys of the area and the gold from which the town sprang yet blends in with and complements the Victorian architecture of the building.
I was in my element browsing this gallery! Craig Potten is a successful photographer specialising in scenes of New Zealand nature. His excellent work is mostly seen on calendars, coffee table books, posters - that sort of thing. I quite like his work, so finding his gallery was a nice surprise, tucked off the main street in a courtyard. You can buy limited edition prints if you want to give your credit card a real work-out, but there are smaller, less expensive prints available too as well as a selection of his books. I spent a quiet and enjoyable half hour in here admiring his work before being dragged out by my companions. Give it a look if you're in town.
Being the centre of gold-rush country, we couldn't visit without trying our hand at gold panning.
In a small outlet along the main street, we hire the necessary equipment, and set off for the river.
Lady luck is not on our side today, however, and all we seem to find is lotsw of boring little grey stones.
No fortune today!
The Arrow River is a short river which runs through Arrowtown where gold was discovered by William Fox in the Arrow river during the Central Otago goldrush of the 1860's.
There is a short but scenic walk along the banks of the river starting in Arrowtown. It isn't very strenuous and takes you to an historic walk bridge.
Gold mining anyone? Why not hire a pan and try your luck and you will find some gold nuggets to bring home.
There is an exhibiions where you could understand how gold mining is done.
Go for the historic minning lesson if you have the time.
It is located in the Lake District Museum.
There is also a lookout point on your way from Wanaka to Arrowtown along Highway 6 around Lake Hayes.
Stop by at the lookout point and you could see Arrowtown. The lookout point was unvieled by then the Minister of Tourism on 17 Dec 1976. It was erected to commenmorate 100 years of local body government of Lake County Council.