Arrowtown Chinese Settlement – Arrowtown, New Zealand - Atlas Obscura

Arrowtown Chinese Settlement

Arrowtown, New Zealand

This preserved village shows the modest lifestyles of the area's 19th-century Chinese gold miners. 


A 20-minute drive from the adventure hub of Queenstown is a preserved relic of New Zealand’s gold mining past. On its outskirts, you’ll find an eye-opening reminder of the living conditions of its oft-overlooked workers.

Arrowtown was a bustling gold rush village in the 19th century. During the Otago Gold Rush of the 1860s, workers flocked to the area to search the Arrow River for the precious mineral. At its peak, around 7,000 people called the settlement home.

But not everyone who came to Arrowtown was fully integrated into the community. The Chinese gold miners were forced to live in modest huts along a creek that meandered around the edge of the town. Their small settlement became somewhat of a village of its own, one that stood in stark contrast to the main town.

Many of the huts have now been preserved and restored. They give visitors a chance to see a different side of Arrowtown than its postcard-perfect commercial avenue. Viewing the ramshackle huts is a reminder of the hard work and harsh conditions the Chinese workers endured.


Know Before You Go

Arrowtown is roughly a 20-minute drive from Queenstown. Though it's full of preserved, historic buildings, it's still an active town, so be sure to check out its shops and restaurants. 

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