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Arrow River Trail, Arrowtown

Arrow River Trail, Arrowtown

Arrowtown is one of the cutest and most interesting small towns in New Zealand. It boomed during the goldrush, with the Arrow River teeming with gold (and miners searching for it). The Arrow River Trail takes you along a short section of this picturesque river and connects with other tracks heading into the hills.

The Arrow River Trail

The Arrow River Trail starts near the big car park in town (a very short walk from the main street in Arrowtown). Everything I’ve read about the track says it takes around an hour return, but there isn’t a marker saying “this is the end of the track” (more on that a bit later).

READ MORE: 10 of the Best Things to Do in Arrowtown

Arrowtown in autumn

The track starts off to the right of Butler’s Green, where the gravel road to Macetown begins. You’ll be heading in the direction of the Arrow River. Keeping to the left, follow the foot track that goes up and along the irrigation pipeline. The track follows this pipeline and the Arrow River most of the way.  The track is mostly flat and very easy – we saw lots of families out on the trail. You can also do it on a bike.

Arrow River Trail, Arrowtown, New Zealand

We did the Arrow River Trail in autumn. It’s the best time to do this walk, and visit Arrowtown in general, with trees full of colourful leaves lining the Arrow River and the hills above town.

Arrow River Trail in autumn

There are lots of viewpoints along the way and even a small waterfall. You’ll eventually reach the Norman Smith Footbridge, which is a good place to turn around and head back. There’s no sign saying it’s the end of the track though, and it continues up the hill and meets again with the road to Macetown. We haven’t been all the way to Macetown yet but it’s on the list (hopefully in a 4WD).

Small waterfall on the Arrow River Trail, New ZealandBridge on the Arrow River Trail, New Zealand

We walked for 15 minutes past the bridge — if you want to extend the walk a little bit it’s a good option.

Arrow River, Queenstown, New Zealand

Another way to extend this walk is to do the Sawpit Gully Track. It branches off the Arrow River Trail, close to the bridge – it’ll take around 90 minutes to get back to the carpark this way but it’s a detour well worth taking if you have the energy.

READ MORE: Queenstown Itinerary: How to Spend Three – Seven Days in Queenstown

Autumn in Arrowtown, New ZealandSawpit Gully Track, Arrowtown, New Zealand


  • When is the best time for autumn leaves? We did this track in mid-April and the leaves were looking good. The Arrowtown Autumn Festival is due to be held from the 20st – 25th of April in 2023, so I’m guessing they try to time that with the peak of the leaves.

Arrow River Trail, Queenstown, New Zealand

  • Is This the Best Walk in Arrowtown? I reckon if you’re going to do one walk in Arrowtown, this should be it. There are great views along the way and it’s very easy. Combine it with the Sawpit Gully Track for a long walk, and way more views! There are other walks in Arrowtown (Lake Hayes Walkway is another good option), making it a good place for hikers to visit, but if you’re only in town for few hours and want to see some cool views without much effort, you can’t go wrong with the Arrow River Trail.

Are you planning a trip to Queenstown? Check out our Queenstown Travel Guide for lots of tips!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.