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The ugly duckling has turned into the golden goose

November 2 2020 by Scott Stevens

The ugly duckling has turned into the golden goose

Have you heard of Arrowtown? It is the often overlooked little town in the northwest corner of the Wakatipu. It’s big sister Queenstown is always screaming for attention claiming to be the jewel in the crown, gobbling up every last cent of any budget going for vanity projects to make itself look more beautiful, if that was even possible. It is no wonder Arrowtown was seen as the ugly duckling for so many years having to sharing the Wakatipu with such a flash big sister.

But thanks to the foresight of early developers long since passed, Arrowtown is blessed with a parks and reserves network like no other town in New Zealand. And because it was forgotten and undervalued for so long, Arrowtown’s old buildings stayed just the way they were. Now it boasts more listed heritage features that any other town in New Zealand.

A few years ago, Arrowtown was granted landmark status as a place of special significance by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. Last week it was judged the most beautiful small town in New Zealand.

Credit where credit is due, QLDC’s Parks Department are a caring bunch who make the most of the few pennies found under the cushions of the council sofa. But most of the credit for this latest award goes to the people who live there and who put their hands up to say, “I care, I really care”. Because of these people Arrowtown has been recognised again as a very special place. We already knew this of course. But that does not lessen the pride. Now the rest of New Zealand will know too. And given the other big news to hit the northwest corner of the Wakatipu last week, it is a welcome boost to our domestic tourism hopes this summer. Pass that crown over Queenstown, or at least the jewel. The ugly duckling has turned into the golden goose.

That other news is not so good, the cancellation of The New Zealand Golf Open 2021. This event has been a huge success for golf tourism in our district particularly the host town, Arrowtown. Golf tourism is one of the last remaining highlights in a devastated tourism industry. Golf tourism was never mass tourism focused. The target market are high value spenders. More relevant than ever in the brave new world of value tourist over numbers of tourists.

We can only hope the event does not disappear forever. As for Arrowtown, the golf courses are still there, and it will always be beautiful if we continue to recognise what makes it the Wakatipu’s golden goose. It is a simple formula. Handle with care and keep looking after her heritage assets, parks and reserves.

Scott Stevens

- Scott Stevens