Needhams Cottage 
Image: Anna Morley | DOC 

Introduction

Camp here and explore one of the most intact historic goldfield towns in Otago. Walk, mountain bike or four wheel drive around the reserve.

Highlights

The historic track from Arrowtown to Macetown now links with the the multi-day Motatapu Track. The track's start/finish is by the Arrow River.

Place overview

Activities

  • Camping

In this section

Find things to do and places to stay Macetown Historic Reserve

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Historic sightseeing

Homeward Bound, New Zealand's grandest stamper battery, lies at the end of a 15 km mountain bike or 4WD adventure.

Four wheel driving

A four wheel drive with high clearance and ideallt a snorkel is needed to get to Macetown. Four wheel driving permitted within the reserve. 

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    About this place

    History and culture

    The Rich Burn. Photo: N Edwards.
    The Rich Burn. Macetown Historic Reserve

    Macetown was first settled in the early 1860s as a result of the discovery of gold in the Arrow River and its catchment. At first the rush was for alluvial gold from the river and its flats. Later the miners turned their attention to the hills and several quartz mining operations were established, some high above the aptly named Rich Burn, which joins the Arrow at Macetown. The village owed its existence solely to the mining industry; when that failed the town slowly died and by the 1930s Macetown was a ghost town.

    Macetown Bakery. Photo: Stew Hardie.
    Macetown Bakery

    Macetown's major historic structures have all been restored in a project completed in 2008, and marked by a plaque, unveiled by the Rt Hon. Helen Clark in March that year. Andersons Battery, Needhams Cottage, and Smiths Bakehouse were the main recipents of attention along with building remnants such as the old schoolroom and stone fences. Some of the housing sections can still be seen and several of the original fruit and shelter trees survive in and around these. Of industrial significance, Andersons battery is the only known all-metal stamping battery in Otago.

    Needhams Cottage. Photo: Stew Hardie.
    Needhams Cottage

    Located approximately 15km up the Arrow River from Arrowtown, access to Macetown is via a 4WD track which fords the river 23 times. It is one of the most intact and accessible historic goldfield towns managed by DOC in Otago. As part of the restoration project there are many new interpretation panels in Macetown. These tell the town's story, through following the life of Jack Glasson, a fictional character, though his life and times are based on real incidents and anecdotes. A challenging 45 minute walk takes you to the historic Homeward Bound Stamper Battery, four storeys high. 

    Close to Queenstown, Macetown attracts over 7,500 visitors annually, either independently (foot, mountain bike or 4WD) or with one of several guided tour operations that regularly visit the historic reserve.

    There are plenty of recreation opportunities: day walks around the township or up the valley to the impressive Homeward Bound stamper, picnicking and mountain biking. The track up the Rich Burn is rough and only suitable for trampers. Dog walking is allowed on a lead within the historic reserve only. 

    Getting there

    Macetown Historic Reserve is 15 km from Arrowtown. Access is via a 4WD track that crosses the river 23 times. Driving takes about 1 hour each way, depending on weather and conditions. Walking from Arrowtown takes 3-4 hours each way, mountain biking 1-2 hours each way.

    Visitors to Macetown who arrive by 4WD vehicle or trail bike should be be aware that this is an historic site. Motor vehicles of any kind are prohibited from driving off formed tracks. The area is monitored. Any off-road activity will be prosecuted.   

    Know before you go

    Visitors to Macetown who arrive by 4WD vehicle or trail bike should be be aware that this is an historic site. Motor vehicles of any kind are prohibited from driving off formed tracks. The area is monitored. Any off-road activity will be prosecuted.   

    Contacts

    Whakatipu-wai-Māori / Queenstown Visitor Centre
    Phone:   +64 3 442 7935
    Address:   50 Stanley Street
    Queenstown
    9300
    Email:   queenstownvc@doc.govt.nz
    Full office details
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