It took me a while to get out of town this morning because I kept getting distracted by coffee shops. When I did get on the road though, the trail took me first through an industrial estate and then down to the Shotover River.
I opted to follow the Queenstown Trail, a network of trails between Queenstown and Arrowtown set up mainly for cyclists, instead of the official Te Araroa route, as it involved less road walking through suburbia. It was an easy, pleasant, and mostly flat journey through farmland and river banks.
When I did join back up with the official TA route, it wound strangely through Millbrook Resort, a new and perfectly manicured golf resort. It reminded me of something a southbounder had said to me once: that he didn’t mind the road walking and small towns along the trail, because the idea was to experience all of New Zealand, and that included the people and culture as well as the picturesque scenery.
I emerged from the resort and almost immediately met the small Arrow River and followed the path along the historic Chinese Settlement there. The Chinese were invited by the Otago Provincial Council in the 1860s to mine gold in the region, after most Europeans had seemingly exhausted the region and left. The Council wanted to replenish the dwindling economy and reached out to the Chinese gold-mining population in Australia at the time with an official invitation. Once here, the Chinese managed to find gold and thrive, but were met with harsh racism and abuse from local European settlers. Eventually, in the 1880s, the government introduced a series of laws to discourage Chinese immigration. An embarrassing story all round.
I’m not sure how many kilometres I skipped by taking an alternate route today, but I arrived at my destination in time for a late lunch and wander around town before heading to the campground. They have a huge sweet shop here, uh oh.