The gold mining township of Arrowtown, 25 minutes from Queenstown, is a beautifully preserved piece of New Zealand’s early history. The first European settlers were the miners, and the small town reached a population of over 7,000 in the gold rush of the late 1800s. As the gold ran out, the miners moved on and the population dwindled, though now there are more than 2,000 people living here.
The Europeans left a colourful legacy – hills and plains covered with deciduous trees from their homelands, which create a magnificent show of flaming reds and golds every Autumn. This spectacular display provides the backdrop for the Autumn Festival, one of Arrowtown’s most popular events.
Every year the town comes alive with flamboyance and flair usually reserved for bigger cities. Highlighting the historical aspects of the old town, the Arrowtown Autumn Festival is a five-day extravaganza which involves pretty much the whole town. There are scarecrow competitions, buskers, art shows, parades and a quacker of a rubber-ducky race. Lunchtime performances by school groups, bands, visitors and the lovely Buckingham Belles with their rousing can-can will keep you entertained while you eat.
A highlight of the festival is Saturday’s aerobatic display by flying instructor Ivan Krippner, and the festival parade brings the town to life as local businesses show off their floats. A Chinese Lion Dance acknowledges the strong local history of the Chinese gold miners, and a vintage car rally will roll down the main street on Sunday.
In the evenings, kick back with entertainment or dancing at the various venues around town. The festival coincides with ANZAC Day this year and a Service will be held on Monday morning.
Bowls, buskers, markets, scenic walks and entertainers are all part of what promises to be an extravaganza of a festival.Most of the events are free, and family-friendly.
This could be the biggest small-town event this year!
What: Arrowtown Autumn Festival
Where: Arrowtown, Otago
When: 21 – 26 April 2016
How much: Free