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Gold-digging and gourmet grazing in Arrowtown

Friday, August 12, 2011
Arrowtown, on the banks of the Arrow River, is a historic gold mining town in the Otago region of New Zealand's south island. At the peak of the gold rush, its population rose to more than 7000 people which was a large municipality in those times. Arrowtown became a borough in 1867 and in 1989 it was part of the Queenstown-Lakes District.

In the 1960s, its population dropped to less than 200 but it has once again seen growth and construction, under strict appearance covenants applied to preserve its appearance and many beautiful buildings used by European, Chinese and Shinto Japanese immigrants who were in search of gold.

Arrowtown has four distinct seasons, and Jules Lund was lucky enough to visit in autumn, a truly beautiful time to be there. Tree-lined streets and surrounding hills are blanketed in breathtaking golds, reds and oranges. Artists, photographers and tourists all flock there to see the colour display.

But it wasn't always that way. Early settlers were struck by the barren landscape, devoid of trees. Many had come from England and Ireland where trees were predominant and Alexander Innes, a prominent resident and later mayor, changed all that. In 1867 he formed an avenue of English trees in Buckingham Street. Over the next decade, more were planted and formed the basis of a town blessed with oaks, sycamores, cork elms and ashes. Later plantings of flowering cherries and Rowans have carried on the tradition.

It's so beautiful locals hold an annual 10-day autumn festival. There's a street parade, arts and craft markets, all sorts of entertainment, an art exhibition, jazz and country music, and even a ball.

Knowing how much good food there is in New Zealand, Jules got in early and rented a bicycle. That way he could have some good exercise and justify tucking in!

Arrowtown Bakery is known far and wide for its delicious, hearty pies and other temptations. Just follow the wafting aromas and you will be rewarded. Here Roz Maxwell and her three daughters each have an area of expertise. Cakes and other sweet goodies, bread, doughnuts, scones, buns are created, mostly from scratch, for a quick snack, lunch or to take away. They also make fruit-flavoured iced tea which goes beautifully with the pies.

Another gem is the Saffron Restaurant run by Aussie expat Pete Gawron and Melanie Hill. They opened the corrugated iron restaurant in 1999 and their creations take full advantage of the marvellous produce and wines of the south island. A revolving seasonal menu of soups, seafood, pork, poultry, beef, the freshest vegetables and delicious desserts will have your tastebuds jumping. It can be enjoyed on a large outdoors area in spring and summer and by a big, open fire in cooler months.

Also Dorothy Brown's Cinema, Bar and Bookstore offers an experience like no other. The luxurious boutique cinema and bar is fully licensed, has a cosy fireplace and large seating. It has a romantic ambience with Chinese silk ceilings, floating pink chiffon lining the walls and beaded chandeliers. You can relax in comfort while watching an art-house or contemporary film. The smaller den screens most art-house films.

Forget the usual cinema chocktops and buckets of popcorn — at Dorothy Brown's you can enjoy a glass of wine and a selection of local cheeses.

You're also more than welcome to browse through a great range of books ranging from fiction, non-fiction, lifestyle, art and children's books and selected magazines.

It was all the dream of film lover Philippa Archibald and has a very happy ending. She named her cinema after a women from Arrowtown's past. She was an elusive and mysterious photographer from the 1900s, well-known in the town's opium dens!

Location

Arrowtown in New Zealand's Otago region.

Cost

Dorothy Brown's Cinema, Bar and Bookstore has a $68 package which includes two film tickets, two glasses of wine and a cheese board of Gibbston cheeses and Additionz relishes.

Arrowtown Bike Hire has guided or unguided rides. They cost $25 an hour, $35 a half day and $29 for a full day. A map is provided and bookings are essential. They operate every day between 9am and 5pm.

Air New Zealand has flights to Christchurch, Auckland and Queenstown.

Christchurch one-way:

  • Sydney and Melbourne $189
  • Brisbane $190

Auckland one-way:

  • Sydney and Melbourne $220
  • Brisbane $249
  • Adelaide $297

Queenstown one-way:

  • Melbourne $288
  • Sydney $289

Sales and validity dates apply.

Prices correct at August 13, 2011.

For more information

Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476
www.airnewzealand.com.au

Arrowtown Bakery
11 Buckingham Street
Arrowtown 9302
New Zealand
Ph: 64 3 442 1587
www.arrowtownbakery.netfirms.com
awbakery@xtra.co.nz

Saffron Restaurant
18 Buckingham Street
Arrowtown 9302
New Zealand
Ph: 64 3 442 0131
www.saffronrestaurant.co.nz
info@saffronrestaurant.co.nz

Dorothy Brown's Cinema
18 Buckingham Street
Arrowtown
New Zealand
Ph: 64 3 442 1964
Fax: 64 3 442 1953
www.dorothybrowns.com
dorothy@dorothybrowns.com

Arrowtown Bike Hire
Poplar Lodge
4 Merioneth Street
Arrowtown
Ph: 64 3 4421466
Fax: 64 3 4421459
www.arrowtownbikehire.co.nz
info@arrowtownbikehire.co.nz

Visa: Australian citizens do not require a visa to enter New Zealand.

Electricity: 230V/50Hz using the same plugs as in Australia.

Time zone: GMT +1.

Currency: The New Zealand dollar.

Telephone code: +64.

It is recommended travellers see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there may be specific vaccinations recommended for areas you will be visiting. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au and www.welltogo.com.au.

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