10 awesome Arrowtown walks

Arrowtown is a beautiful little town full of history and charm. A short 20-minute drive from Queenstown, it’s a popular destination for a change of pace from the bustling adventure capital.

Among other activities, it is also home to an incredible network of walking trails offering a variety of terrain and spectacular viewpoints over Arrowtown and surrounding areas to enjoy.

If you’re heading to Arrowtown you’ll be spoiled for choice from family-friendly walks to advanced hikes.

Enjoying these trails is the perfect way to experience Arrowtown’s beautiful landscapes and spectacular views. You may even spot historical remnants from the town’s gold mining days along the way.

Here are the 10 best Arrowtown walks suitable for a variety of fitness levels and ranging from a time commitment of one hour to a whole day. 

We’re sharing them in order of shortest distance to longest, so you can pick whatever works best for you.

A woman walking along a trail surrounded on both sides with green shrubs and trees with yellow autumn leaves.

Best Arrowtown walks

1. Manse Road Walkway

Distance:<1km (0.5 mile)
Time needed:40 minutes
Track type:Out and back
Suitable for:Most levels of fitness

The Manse Road Walkway is an easy walking path that runs along the side of Manse Road, connecting Millwater Resort to Arrowtown. 

Although a short walk, in autumn you’ll have a chance to take in the deciduous trees showing off their red and golden leaves along the way, before reaching Millbrook Resort and its beautiful tree-lined main entrance.

For a longer walk, divert off the trail through the Chinese Village to connect with Arrowtown Millennium Walkway and Bush Creek.

How to get there: Start from Manse Road in Arrowtown.

2. Arrowtown Millennium Walkway 

Distance:4.8km (3 miles)
Time needed:1.5 hours
Track type:Loop
Suitable for:Most levels of fitness
Note:Shared with mountain bikers

The Arrowtown Millenium Walkway was built in 1998 to mark 150 years since Europeans settled in the Otago Region.

It’s a lovely and easy walk along the Arrow River with lots of shade, perfect for sunny days. Autumn is especially stunning when the landscape is blanketed in red and golden hues.

To make the trail a loop follow the river and cross over the second bridge. Then double back, following the other side of the river to the first bridge where it meets up with Tobins Track.

How to get there: Start from Arrowtown Skate Park on Ford Street. 

3. Bush Creek Trail 

Distance:5.5km (3.4 miles)
Time needed:3 hours
Track type:Out and back
Suitable for:Most levels of fitness
Note:Shared with mountain bikers

Bush Creek Trail is a pleasant walk through native forests as well as open spaces following alongside the creek.

You’ll eventually pass through a gorge on the way to the saddle where you’ll be greeted with beautiful views over the Wakatipu Basin. 

The trail is mostly flat with a gradual incline and a few short steep sections. At the saddle, you can turn around and return the same way or continue up a steep track to Coronet Peak, which will add an additional hour to the journey. 

This walk is particularly beautiful in spring and autumn with colours of the season on full display. 

How to get there: Head to the car park near Butler’s Green and look for the trails notice board. From the notice board, turn left and cross over the small footbridge. Follow the trail left until you cross over the irrigation pipeline and go through a sheep gate.

Sweet couples with one of their arms embracing their partners walk along the track surrounded by trees and the sun shining in front of them.
Photo: sandeepachetan.com.

4. Arrow River Trail

Distance:4.2km (2.6 miles)
Time needed:1 hour
Track type:Out and back
Suitable for:Most levels of fitness
Note:Shared with mountain bikers

The Arrow River Trail is an easy track that takes you above the Arrow River through a scenic forest.

The trail follows the Arrow River and irrigation pipeline much of the way (which you’ll see to your right). There are some beautiful viewpoints looking over the valleys below, plus you’ll even cross a small waterfall. 

You’ll eventually reach the Norman Smith Footbridge. There isn’t a clear marker that says this is the end of the trail but you can turn around and retrace your steps back to Butler’s Green from here.

However, if you have the energy to walk an extra 15 minutes up the hill past the footbridge, the views are worth it. 

If you only have a few hours in Arrowtown this trail is a good option for great views without too much effort or time required.

How to get there: Head to the car park near Butler’s Green and look for the trail’s noticeboard. From the notice board, head left and cross the footbridge over Bush Creek, then turn right and follow the track as it curves to the left.

A shallow river following a bend surrounded by the yellow autumn leaves of the trees.

5. Tobin’s Track

Distance:6.6km (4.1 miles)
Time needed:2 hours
Track type:Out and back
Suitable for:Most levels of fitness
Note:Shared with mountain bikers

Tobin’s Track is a short but steep gravel track with incredible views over Arrowtown and the Wakatipu Basin.

It’s a fairly easy trail, however, thanks to its consistent uphill climb a decent level of fitness is required. It’s not technically challenging though. 

There is a platform at the top with seats to rest and enjoy the view. You can even bring a packed lunch for a picnic – just be sure to take any rubbish with you.

This is a great little track if you’re short on time and want to enjoy decent views at the top. 

How to get there: The entrance to the track is at the bottom of Ford Street where you’ll see a car park. From there, follow the bridge across the Arrow River. 

6. New Chum Track

Difficulty:Moderate to difficult
Distance:7.2km (4.4 miles)
Time needed:3 hours
Track type:Loop
Suitable for:Medium to high fitness levels

Halfway up Tobin’s Track (#5 on this list), you’ll find the entrance to the New Chum Track.

This will take you across Glencoe Station before heading down into gullies and streams. You’ll come out by the Norman Smith Bridge.

From there, follow the irrigation pipe trail to complete the loop.  

This is a great day walk offering a decent challenge, a variety of terrains and incredible scenery.

You’ll go from high ridgelines with views over Arrowtown and the Wakatipu Basin to meandering along streams down in the gully.

However, there are some steep rocky sections to navigate, so take care.

Keep an eye out for remnants from Arrowtown’s gold mining days along the way.

How to get there: Look for the orange marker and a gate about halfway up Tobin’s Track on your right-hand side. 

7. Sawpit Gully

Distance:7.7km (4.8 miles)
Time needed:3 hours
Track type:Loop
Suitable for:Medium to high fitness levels

The Sawpit Gully trail is one of the most varied hikes in terms of terrain and scenery. This makes it one of our favourite Arrowtown walks.

The views over colourful valleys, Lake Hayes and the Wakatipu Basin are spectacular!

How to get there: Start from Butler’s Green. This trail can be walked clockwise or anti-clockwise.

Anti-clockwise starts from the Arrow River Trail (and this is our preference). After about 1.5km (0.9 miles), shortly after you pass the waterfall, there will be a sharp hairpin turnoff to the left leading onto the Sawpit Gully Trail.

There is a short scramble over rocks right at the turnoff and a short walk along a narrow path with a drop-off to the left. The trail gets steeper as you climb into the gully.

You’ll pass over a couple of creeks, along ridges, through beech forest and over tussock-covered slopes before the climb out of the Sawpit Gully.

Keep an eye out for the remains from the gold mining era along the way.

Pro tip: Walk the Sawpit Gully trail in an anti-clockwise direction for an easier ascent. 

A woman standing near the cliff while looking at the river at the base of the mountain, a few autumn trees, and mountain ranges at a distance.

8. Lake Hayes Walkway

Distance:8km (5 miles)
Time needed:2 – 3 hours
Track type:Loop
Suitable for:Most levels of fitness
Note:Shared with mountain bikers

Lakes Hayes is a beautiful and tranquil lake located just outside Arrowtown.

The Lake Hayes Walkway is a flat and easy walk around the perimeter of the lake on a well-maintained track. There are plenty of opportunities to stop along the way and enjoy beautiful views across the lake and the surrounding landscape. 

Bring a packed lunch and enjoy a picnic alongside the lake – just be sure to take your rubbish with you when you’re done. 

Birders may like to keep an eye out for the Australian crested grebe. Lake Hayes is home to a healthy population of these beautiful water birds, along with other birds and natives within the ecosystem.

How to get there: Drive 5 minutes from Arrowtown via the Arrowtown-Lake Hayes Road. 

There are several access points to Lake Hayes. The North Lake Hayes picnic area has the most parking and is our preference.

A woman walking along a track filled with dried leaves, with trees and their yellow autumn leaves nearby.

9. Big Hill Trail

Difficulty:Moderate to difficult
Distance:14.2km (8.8 miles)
Time needed:5 – 6
Track type:Out and back
Suitable for:High levels of fitness

Big Hill Trail is a scenic and challenging walk with various terrains including forest walks, open fields, steep climbs and stream crossings.

Some parts may be overgrown so do take care.

It’s a big effort for an even bigger reward with spectacular views from the top, though!

Once you reach the summit turn around and head back the same way or there are a few options to turn this into a loop. Just keep in mind this will make it a longer walk and extra time will be needed.

Check the trail notice boards for specific route details as the distance and time needed will vary depending on your choice. 

How to get there: Start from Bush Creek near Butler’s Green. Follow the hill to Eichardt’s Flat and then turn left to follow the hillside to Bill Hill Saddle. 

10. Macetown Road Track

Distance:15km (9 miles)
Time needed:6 – 8
Track type:Out and back
Suitable for:Medium levels of fitness
Note:4WD road shared with vehicles & mountain bikers.

Macetown was once a settlement for gold miners during the gold rush era. 

First settled in the 1860s when gold was discovered near the Arrow River, it’s now uninhabited but a popular area to visit.

The Macetown Road Track follows the Arrow River and heads up the steep-sided Arrow gorge. The road crosses the river numerous times and is a whole day affair for a return trip. Be sure to start early especially during times of the year with shorter daylight hours.

Given the river crossings, this trail shouldn’t be used when the river is high or if there has been a lot of rainfall. Alternatives to walking to Macetown are mountain biking or a [discounted] 4WD tour

Keep an eye out for the many historic landmarks along the road.

You can even turn this excursion into an overnight adventure and camp at the Macetown Campsite.

How to get there: Start from the Arrow River Trail. Access to the town is via a gravel road that starts about a 15-minute walk past the Norman Smith Footbridge.

You’ll be spoiled for choice with so many Arrowtown walks waiting to be explored.

Whichever you choose, it’ll be a great day out in nature and a chance to experience all the beautiful landscapes.

We hope this list of the best Arrowtown walks helps you plan for a great day out during your time there!

Guest post and photos (unless otherwise stated): Heather Marston

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