Image: Benhi Dixon | Creative Commons
A visit to this thriving picture-postcard tourist town enables visitors to view both sides of the gold-rush coin: the preserved avenue where wealthy banks and merchants traded in the mid-1800s, and the restored huts on the edge of town that reveal the more modest lifestyles of the Chinese miners.
Arrowtown's tree-lined main street provides calendar images of autumn-gold colour that go around the world. In the middle of the 19th century the gold was the real thing, and everyone was rushing to find it. The cottages and buildings in the historic Buckingham Street precinct represent the original core of economic activity within the town.
Chinese gold-miners also flocked to this area and in 1874 there were 3,564 Chinese living in Otago. In Arrowtown, the Chinese were forced to live in huts along isolated gullies on the banks of Bush Creek at the edge of town. Many of the huts have been restored, offering visitors the chance to step back into that 'golden' era and see up-close the toil and modest living conditions of the 'other half' in this prosperous town.
Take a short walk around this partially restored and well interpreted Chinese settlement from the 1880s. Kids will be fascinated with the old huts and what life was like.
Arrowtown Chinese Settlement is off Buckingham Street in Arrowtown.