Needhams Cottage

Image: Anna Morley | DOC


Camp here and explore one of the most intact historic goldfield towns in Otago. Walk, mountain bike or four wheel drive around the reserve. The historic track from Arrowtown to Macetown links with the the multi-day Motatapu Track.

Place overview


  • Camping
  • Four wheel driving

In this section

Find things to do and places to stay Macetown Historic Reserve

About this place

History and culture

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's major historic structures have all been restored including Andersons Battery, Needhams Cottage, Smiths Bakehouse and 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.

Interpretation panels tell the town's story through following the life of Jack Glasson, a fictional character based on real incidents and anecdotes.

There are plenty of recreation opportunities: day walks around the township or a challenging 45 minute walk up the valley to the impressive Homeward Bound Stamper Battery, 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.

Know before you go

Vehicles must stay on tracks

This is an historic site and 4WD and trail bike access is limited to formed tracks.

Do not go off the track or attempt routes you are unsure about as it may be very difficult to reverse or pass other traffic. The terrain is challenging and includes sections of narrow road with steep drop-offs, blind corners and multiple unbridged river crossings. Experience in rough conditions on steep terrain is essential.  

Vehicle requirements

You should be self-reliant, with recovery equipment (winch) appropriate for the conditions and terrain.

Recommended minimum vehicle requirements include: a fit for purpose 4WD fitted with off-road tyres and snorkel, or other suitable means to avoid hydraulicing.

Don't expect vehicle assistance

Do not expect assistance if your vehicle becomes submerged, damaged or stuck on the track or in rivers. You need to make your own arrangements for vehicle recovery in the event of a mishap.


Whakatipu-wai-Māori / Queenstown Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 442 7935
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   50 Stanley Street
Postal Address:   PO Box 811
Queenstown 9348
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