Queenstown, South Island

Lakes District Museum stepping back in time

Re-enacting the goldrush days in Arrowtown

Lakes District Museum children on Lake Whakatipu

Children on Lake Whakatipu - courtesy of Lakes District Museum

Lakes District Museum 3

Lakes District Museum Arrowtown - early settlement and gold rush

Lakes District Museum 1

Lakes District Museum Arrowtown

Lakes District Museum 2

Lakes District Museum Arrowtown

Lakes District Museum 4

Lakes District Museum Arrowtown

Lakes District Museum 5

Lakes District Museum Arrowtown

Lakes District Museum and Info Centre

Bringing to life the colourful stories of love, betrayal, murder, gold fever, disasters and discoveries.  Plus travel even further back and see moa bones with your own eyes!  Learn about the hunt for pounamu (greenstone) long before the goldrush, and the Māori tribes that settled here way before the farmers and goldseekers from overseas.

A lively museum, filled with hands-on displays and plenty to entertain the kids!  The museum has a number of FREE treasure hunts to entertain you as you explore the stories behind the gold rush that turned Queenstown and Arrowtown into a frenzy!    

Meet colourful characters from the past and discover how you and the kids would have lived through a gold rush.  You can even hire a pan, and try your luck in the Arrow River just like the early miners (seriously – gold is still discovered there!)    

 See exhibits from the lives of the early Māori and even artefacts from the extinct bird the Moa!  The museum contains a fabulous bookshop and exhibition gallery that changes regularly. There are local walking and biking maps and an activity booking desk, all making the Lakes District Museum a must-visit!

Museum Treasure Hunts   FREE (Available from the front desk).

A fun interactive way for the children to explore the museum - they stay entertained with one of our fun treasure hunts as you explore together the stories behind the gold rush that turned Queenstown and Arrowtown into a frenzy!

Entry: Adult $12, Seniors $8, Child $5 (child is 17 and under), Family - Kids go FREE (2 x adults + 2 x children) $20, group discounts available.

Goldpan Hire : Gold pan hire $5 (plus a $10 refundable deposit)  

Gold Pan Hire from Lakes District Museum

Try your luck down at the Arrow River, where many miners before you have worked, patiently hoping to find their fortune.  It's only 2 minutes walk from the museum – where you can hire your gold pans – to the river bank.  Grab the family and a picnic and get into gold fever!
The river is a beautiful summer spot, well-loved by locals for cooling off on a hot day!

For $5 (plus a $10 cash deposit) you can hire a pan for as long as you want, and spend an hour – or a day – panning the Arrow River.
A fun, affordable and authentic mining experience.

Lakes District Museum Education Programme

We offer a variety of programmes tailored to school visits and suitable for all ages.

- Museum visit, with discussion, exploration and hands-on activities with a free costume option.

- Legend of Lake Whakatipu and other local stories.  Relevant artefacts and discussion.

- Historic walk: themes include immigration and culture (miners' cottages), law and order (gaol), early schooling (Mary McKillop's cottage), and the role of the church (Catholic church, visits to historic Anglican and Presbyterian churches also available on request), the role of Freemasons (for senior students) developing inquiry skills.

Map of New Zealand
  • Central Otago
  • Auckland
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Christchurch
  • Dunedin
  • Coromandel
  • Gisborne
  • Fiordland
  • Marlborough Sounds
  • Manawatu
  • Northland
  • North Canterbury
  • Queenstown
  • South Canterbury
  • Taranaki
  • Southland
  • Taupo
  • Wanaka
  • Waikato
  • Wellington
  • West Coast
  • Whangarei
  • Bay of Islands
  • Tauranga
  • Gisborne
  • Hamilton
  • Napier
  • Kapiti
  • Palmerston North
  • Whanganui
  • New Plymouth
  • Arrowtown
  • Te Anau
  • Akaroa
  • Ashburton
  • Hanmer
  • Kaikoura
  • Methven
  • Mt Cook
  • Oamaru
  • Tekapo
  • Timaru
  • Abel Tasman
  • Motueka
  • Nelson Lakes
  • Blenheim
  • Picton
  • Catlins
  • Gore
  • Stewart Island
  • Central Plateau
  • Invercargill
  • Cromwell
  • Greymouth
  • Hokitika
  • Westport
  • Glenorchy

Our favourite destinations…


New Zealand’s economic heart and biggest city is also an exciting family visitor destination, situated on a sunny harbour with city beaches just minutes away from the CBD. Orientate yourself by heading down to Viaduct Harbour, wandering the waterfront, checking out the super yachts or enjoying the waterfront restaurants. Nearby is the must-visit Sky Tower along with excellent and kid-friendly museums and tons of exciting activities!


Wellington is New Zealand’s capital. Here you will find New Zealand's parliament buildings, including the 'Executive Wing', more well-known as 'The Beehive' due to its distinctive shape. Another icon to look out for is the Wellington Tram, which was the main means of public transport between 1878 and 1964.


With a population of around 400,000 Christchurch, in Canterbury, is the South Island ’s largest city, yet much of it has the feel of a small town. Perhaps that’s why it’s known as the Garden City but with the expansive Hagley Park, Botanic Gardens, Port Hills, River Avon and numerous beaches the city certainly has an open, relaxed feel that’s hard to beat.


With its well-deserved reputation as New Zealand’s activity adventure capital you’ll never run out of activities and things to do in Queenstown, but you may run out of time! With breathtaking scenery, activities and festivals, cafes and restaurants, skiing and snowboarding, shopping and wineries, this lakeside alpine resort rates as one of the world’s top vacation destinations for all ages and seasons.


Rotorua sits on the shore of Lake Rotorua, one of sixteen lakes in the area formed by hundreds of thousands of years of eruptions from the Taupo Volcanic Zone. The area is renowned for its geothermal activity and top of any activity list is to see the bubbling mud pools that are around the region for yourself. The Waimangu Volcanic Valley offers a first hand insight into the devastation caused by the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera and is a great place to discover steaming volcanic craters and bubbling, spitting  pools of mud!

Nelson and Golden Bay

The Nelson and Golden Bay regions, at the top of the South Island, boast enviable sunshine hours, glorious sandy beaches, safe swimming spots, lots of wildlife to look out for, and Abel Tasman National Park - an absolute must to explore, on foot, by kayak, your own craft or watertaxi.  Nelson is home to a vibrant arts and crafts community with a fabulous Saturday market, and is close to award-winning wineries and family-friendly bike tracks to take you around the coast.

Hawkes Bay

Napier was rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake and is now known as NZ's Art Deco City.  The Art Deco influence has created a unique city – nowhere else can you see such a varied concentration of art deco style. With over 2,200 sunshine hours a year, Napier is a year-round holiday destination with countless activities to entertain the kids – there's days of entertainment on Marine Parade alone, plus numerous other family-friendly trips and activities.  Add to that the beaches, walks and flat cycle paths, outdoor cafes and entertainment, and you have a perfect holiday destination!


Beautiful, unspoiled beaches, fishing, historic gum fields, kauri forests – the Far North has it all. With subtropical temperatures, it's often known as ‘the Winterless north', with warm, humid summers and mild winters.
Gateway to the Bay of Islands, Paihia is a pretty, lively beachside town and a perfect base for your family holiday. It’s your start point for Bay of Island adventures including day cruises, sailing, kayaking, swimming with dolphins and reef or wreck diving.