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Arrowtown Museum

EL6537 Horse team and carriage on the Skippers Road

The Lakes District Museum in Arrowtown was founded in 1948. The museum holds a huge repository of objects, photographs, papers, books and interviews relating to our history. The museum is a charitable trust relying largely on its door charge and sales to survive.

David Clarke has been the museum’s long serving Director and likes to walk and bike the districts track and trails. 

The ongoing future of this district institution is seriously threatened due to the need to earthquake strengthen its heritage buildings and the impact of Covid 19.

Maori Point - One of the richest gold-bearing beaches on the Shotover was discovered by two North Island Māori, Raniera (Dan) Ellison and his colleague Hakaria Haeroa. They had viewed an inaccessible beach which looked promising. They swam across to it but along with their dog. The dog got swept downstream and when the two miners reached her they noticed her coat was covered in fine gold. The site became known as Maori Point and for a number of years was a thriving settlement.

Mount Motatapu - (2030m) First climbed by the surveyors Jollie and Young while they were exploring the Cardrona area. Jollie called the peak Mount Perspiring to rival Mount Aspiring

Paradise - (head of the lake) - Named because of the large numbers of paradise ducks found there. Originally called Paradise Flats. It was said to be originally known as Paradise Duck Flat, shortened to Paradise Flats and then Paradise.

Pigeon Island - Called Wawahiwaka by Maori, meaning ‘the splitter of canoes’. They used the large totara trees that once existed on the island, to build their canoes. It was gifted by the Crown in 1884 to the people of Queenstown for their enjoyment. Extensive planting has seen a wide variety of native plants regenerating on the island.

Routeburn - Named by surveyor James McKerrow probably after Routeburn near Kilmarnock in Scotland. This in turn is a contraction, from a skirmish after the Battle of Largs (1263 between Norway and Scotland). Earlier names were Wild Dog Creek and Western of Caples.

Skippers - There is some debate as to the naming of the canyon and Skippers Point. Some historians say it was named after ‘Skipper Dan McAllister, others say ‘Skipper’ Gray. However, seafarer ‘Skipper’ Malcolm Duncan, who discovered gold in the canyon in 1862 is the best contender. Born in Northern Ireland, Duncan served for a number of years on American ships, hence the nickname ‘Skipper’. Duncan took part in the gold rush and discovered gold at Skippers Creek, which soon became known as Skippers Point or simply ‘Skippers’.

Tucker Beach - Named because of the lack of gold. Miners could earn enough to pay for their ‘tucker’ (food)

Wye Creek - Names by WG Rees, after the Wye Valley on the border between England and Wales