Reflections on Arrowtown

I spent my last two months in New Zealand living and working in Arrowtown, a lovely little community in the Queenstown area with a wild, wild west feeling to it. No where else in New Zealand can you take your pet lamb for a walk by the river, let your super friendly golden retriever wander around town advertising for the local art gallery, take your four dogs for a swim in the Arrow River, leave your doors unlocked at night, and walk to work in under two minutes. I am really going to miss it.

Taking the pet lamb for a walk

Dogs on an ATV after a swim

How did I discover this wonderful place? Last April, I stopped by briefly before heading to Dunedin in order to see the fall colors. I was impressed and decided that if I ever had the chance to return, I would.  That opportunity came on January 1, and so with less than two months left on my working holiday visa, I headed to Arrowtown to work at the backpackers. Poplar Lodge is the only backpackers in Arrowtown and has the highest BBH rating in the Queenstown area. BBH hostels are a network of locally owned hostels all over New Zealand, and many people choose to stay at top ranked hostels. The deal for cleaners is that you get free accommodation for 2-3 hours of work in the morning cleaning the lodge. The rest of the day is yours. I was only supposed to stay 10 days; it turned into two months. Within two days of arriving, I got a job at Pannikins cafe, home of wonderful homemade food, working in the afternoons. I then spent my free time in the hills combing over kilometers of tracks with great views of the Wakatipu Basin and the Arrow River. My favorite trail run was the Arrow River Track, which is 4 km roundtrip and follows the Arrow River upstream. I would try to hit that several times a week after work. It was a great way to unwind after serving coffees and ice creams all afternoon at the cafe.

Sawpit Gully Track

The Arrow River

The town itself is a wonderful community of locally owned shops, restaurants, and cafes. It’s a popular tourist destination with daytrippers arriving in droves from Queenstown on the Connectabus. Buckingham Street is where the majority of the shops are located and is bordered by the Chinese Village is at one end and the library at the other. There were even Zumba classes in the Arrowtown hall on Wednesday evenings. The nice thing about New Zealand is that most of the shops and cafes close at 5:00 or 6:00 PM enabling people to have a life outside of work. The town is very quiet after the tourists go home for the day.

On my last day in Arrowtown, I ate lunch at Pannikins and found that Glen, my boss, had made chocolate chip scones, which I had requested a few days ago; and they were amazing. I had so many goodbyes to say that I almost missed the bus to the airport at 2:00 PM, which was full of Queenstown daytrippers. I think I left a piece of my heart in Arrowtown.

The Arrow River in fall

Delicious chocolate chip scones

Up next is the biggest culture shock of my life…Southeast Asia

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