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  • Writer's pictureRach Stewart


Arrowtown New Zealand Autumn Photo Locations Blog

Arrowtown … a hidden gem nestled amidst the stunning landscapes of New Zealand's South Island and only 20 minutes from Queenstown. This charming historic gold mining town transforms into a colourful haven especially for photographers with its picturesque streets and incredible Autumn shades during the months of April and May.

I have visited Arrowtown New Zealand during the Autumn months on countless occasions, both as a guide for photography tours and as a tourist/photographer myself. I am never disappointed by this beautiful little town with its access to nearby mountains, beautiful lakes and the walking trails by the Arrow River.

Thurlby Domain Arrowtown Autumn New Zealand
Thurlby Domain in Arrowtown during Autumn (ISO100, 16mm, F10, 1/60sec)

The rich history of Arrowtown is unmistakable with its preserved buildings, quaint cottages, art galleries and local shops, and artifacts from its gold mining past. Photography opportunities are endless especially at the Historic Chinese Settlement and associated walking tracks that meander around the river.

If you’re heading to the South Island of New Zealand specifically for Autumn photography then Arrowtown is your place to be. With it being just a stones throw from Queenstown and on your way to other destinations (like Mackenzie Country) from Queenstown, spending some time in Arrowtown is a must do.

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Here is just a quick rundown on the gold mining history of Arrowtown and why it is such a unique destination and opportunity for photography.

The Historic Police Hut in Arrowtown Autumn
The Historic Police Hut in Arrowtown (ISO100, 200mm, F9, 1/100sec)

Arrowtown was founded in the 1860s during the Otago Gold Rush, when prospectors flocked to the region in search of their fortunes. The discovery of gold in the nearby Arrow River sparked huge interest from all over the world, and Arrowtown quickly grew into a bustling hub for miners, merchants, and adventurers.

The town's historic buildings and well preserved streetscape serve as a window into the past, transporting anyone who visits back to the days of the gold rush.

Edith Cavell Bridge Shotover River Gorge Arrowtown
The view from the Edith Cavell Bridge overlooking the Shotover River Gorge (ISO100, 16mm, F10, 1/100sec)

The Lakes District Museum, located in the heart of Arrowtown, offers a fascinating glimpse into the town's history, with exhibits that showcase the lives and experiences of the early settlers. From the Chinese Settlement, which was home to a thriving community of Chinese gold miners, to the restored Arrowtown Jail and Courthouse, every corner of Arrowtown is instilled with a sense of history and days gone by.

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In Arrowtown you'll find a wide range of accommodation options, from charming bed and breakfasts, hotels, and camp grounds, all designed to enhance your experience in this beautiful little town.


I have stayed at the Arrowtown Holiday Park on many many occasions and it rates highly on my list. Beautiful setting, close to town, good rates, great showers and very clean, this is a great spot to stay.


There are many motels, hotels and bed and breakfasts to choose from to say in Arrowtown. Check out the recommendations on's Where To Stay Guide.


If you're after a touch of luxury the award winning Millbrook Resort is a super luxurious 5 star retreat located on 650 acres of beautiful countryside in Arrowtown.



Arrowtown New Zealand boasts an array of exceptional restaurants, all charming and unique just like the town. My absolute favourite place to go for good vibes, amazing craft beer, great food and that friendly pub like atmosphere is the Fork & Tap Arrowtown. It is a must do every time I visit Arrowtown and I highly recommend checking it out.

For more information on where to eat in Arrowtown check out's recommendations.



Arrowtown Autumn Photo Blog New Zealand
Arrowtowns Autumn Colours taken from the Historic Police Hut (ISO100, 200mm, F9, 1/160sec)

Autumn in Arrowtown New Zealand typically runs from late March to late May, and it is a truly magical time to visit. During this season the weather is crisp and cool and full of Autumn colours. The surrounding mountain peaks will often receive their first snow during this time and it is also host to the annual Arrowtown Autumn Festival, which celebrates this amazing little town with events, parades, and markets.

Autumn in Arrowtown offers an unforgettable experience filled with natural beauty, local charm and beautiful Autumn photography moments for your portfolio.



Arrowtown War Memorial Park during Autumn
Views from the Arrowtown War Memorial Park during Autumn (ISO400, 70mm, F9, 1/100sec)

For ease of use and exact locations you can download my New Zealand Map and Guide, plus have access to travel itineraries and over 400 epic New Zealand photo locations, activities and places to stay.

NZ Travel Guide and Map



The Historic Police Hut in Arrowtown during Autumn
The Historic Police Hut in Arrowtown during Autumn (ISO400, 200mm, F9, 1/100sec)

Probably one of the most photographed historic places in all of New Zealand, the old Police Hut in Arrowtown is a beautiful photograph to add to your portfolio especially when it is surrounded by the Autumn colours during the months of April and May.

The Historic Police Hut in Arrowtown Autumn
The Historic Police Hut in Arrowtown taken from across the park (ISO400, 70mm, F9, 1/100sec)

Photo info: Head to the Historic Police Hut early in the morning if you want to try and get a photograph without too many cars or people and when the early morning sun is creating light on the colourful trees.

Take you're wide angle lens when standing in front of the hut, and then try head up the stairs directly opposite the hut with your zoom lens to capture a more closely cropped image of the scene.

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Speargrass Flat Road on the way to Arrowtown is one of the most beautiful Autumn Roads in the entire South Island, and it happens to be just a 10 minute drive from Queenstown.

The changing colours of the trees are some of the most vibrant you will find this area and you can also spot some snow capped hills at the end of the road if you manage to time it with one of the first snow dumps of the season.

You will find the best section of the road for the Autumn colours here, near the Thurlby Domain.

Photo info: Shoot this spot on your mid to long range zoom lens (24 - 200mm) during the mid morning or mid-late afternoon and the best time is in late April/early May.



Autumn Thurlby Domain Arrowtown New Zealand
Autumn at Thurlby Domain Arrowtown New Zealand (ISO100, 16mm, F10, 1/60sec)

Thurlby Domain along Speargrass Flat Road (right by the Speargrass Flat photo spot above) is another stunning location for Arrowtown autumn foliage. There are also some historic buildings which looking amazing against the surrounding trees and leaf drop.

This spot is often used as a wedding venue so you'll need to check that the gates are open to the public before you enter. There is usually a sign present if a wedding is happening.

Photo info: Take your wide angle (16-35mm or similar) to this spot during the mid morning or mid-late afternoon and it is best during late April/Early May.

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Lake Hayes Arrowtown Autumn New Zealand
An early Autumn morning at Lake Hayes Arrowtown (ISO250, 18mm, F9, 1/200sec)

Lake Hayes is located close to the towns of Arrowtown and Queenstown and it absolutely stunning in Autumn. This small lake has become a popular destination for nature lovers and photographers providing scenic views and plenty of outdoor activities.

Lake Hayes has quite a few access points, but if you take the Bendemeer Bay access way, and stroll approximately 100m along the path you will find the old jetty featured in many images from Lake Hayes Arrowtown.

On a still day Lake Hayes reflects the surrounding mountains including Coronet Peak and the Remarkables.

Photo info: Lake Hayes is a location that works well at both sunrise and sunset, however there will be less people at sunrise so it just depends on whether you'd like to be with other people or not. It is not a crowded spot so a lot of the times I have photographed here I've had it to myself and it has been bliss! Take your wide angle lens (16-35mm or similar) to this location.



One of my absolute favourite Arrowtown Autumn photography spots is the relatively easy to get to is the Shotover River Gorge from Edith Cavell Bridge.

If you've booked to go jet boating on the Shotover River you will actually pass over the bridge where this shot was taken from.

The Edith Cavell bridge on Arthurs Point Road is around 15 minutes from the Queenstown city centre heading towards Coronet Peak ski field. There is public carparking available just past the bridge on your left.

Please note the bridge is very skinny and you will need to stand on the provided footpath and steer clear of any large vehicles crossing the bridge while you are on it.

Photo info: Because the canyon is in shadow most of the time I would suggest photographing during the day so you can achieve the best light possible. Use your wide angle lens for this spot.

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Autumn Arrowtown War Memorial Park
Autumn views from the Arrowtown War Memorial Park (ISO400, 70mm, F9, 1/400sec)

The Arrowtown War Memorial Park is a great place to visit for an elevated view over the town and surrounding mountains especially during the Autumn season.

The panoramic views are incredible especially for the little effort it takes to get them!

Autumn Arrowtown War Memorial Park
Autumn views from the Arrowtown War Memorial Park (ISO400, 70mm, F9, 1/500sec)

Photo info: Take your wide angle zoom lens (70-200mm or similar) with you to this spot during the mid morning or mid-late afternoon and it is best during late April/Early May.



The Crown Range Summit is the highest pass or through road in New Zealand, at 1076 m (3530 ft). It lies east of the Wakatipu Basin in Otago, and is known for both its stunning views over Arrowtown and Queenstown and the famous Zig Zag which winds up to it.

Crown Range Road Queenstown Arrowtown Autumn
Views from the Crown Range Road Queenstown (ISO100, 83mm, F11, 1/250sec)

There is plenty of parking available at the lookout.

Crown Range Road Arrowtown Queenstown
Views from the Crown Range Road

Photo info: Take your mid range and full zoom lenses (24-70mm and 70-200mm) with you for this spot and it is beautiful during the golden hours and especially stunning during winter with the snow.

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Thanks for taking to time to read my Arrowtown New Zealand Autumn Photo Guide. I hope it inspires you to come to New Zealand during Autumn and explore the Arrowtown region sometime soon.

If you are interested in prints of any of the New Zealand Landscape Photography seen in this blog, please feel free to head on over to my New Zealand Photography Print Store and have a little look around.


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