Monday, June 15, 2015

Litterboxes + Arrowtown, NZ

Sunday breakfast: high-heat cabbage with red pepper plus tomato, avocado, apple, and banana.

It's a beautiful day just outside Queenstown. Last night the campground was busy.

I asked the host here if there were a walking path along the gorgeous Shotover river and she said yes, but that the road wasn't the best way to get there. Turn left out the drive and walk until you see a lot of litterboxes, she said. I thought this was unusual, and after breakfast returned to confirm the route. Nothing changed. 

Until we saw these letterboxes. The pronunciation of all kinds of words shifts when e becomes i. Like when I first started using a new credit card here, people would ask if I had a PIN, and I'd say no, I forgot to get a PIN before we left the US. But they were just asking me if I had a sign.

This one made me laugh out loud. The line-up is on the edge of a relatively tony community and you can only imagine what residents have had to say about the litterbox line-up.

There really wasn't a path along the river, sad to say, so we walked down to check out the jet boat depot.

And say hi to some sheep along the way.

Time to recalibrate today's field trip. On the way into Queenstown we'd driven along the edge of a tiny, quaint heritage village called Arrowtown. A quick check of some local literature confirmed it was worth seeing up close.

It was Maori Jack Tewa, a shearer, who found gold in the Arrow River in 1862. But a pushier European, William Fox, made bigger waves, and the town started life called Fox's. 1500 miners worked the river below emerging Buckingham Street. Many were Chinese, and they built an entirely separate village.
Here's a shot of Buckingham Street circa 1900 (whoa, Pippi, time machine travel...).
The town sprang up alongside the gold-rich Arrow River, and much of it remains. The first jail in Arrowtown was simply a log. You were chained up to it. The later stone jail still exists and is New Zealand’s 4th oldest jail.
Early days general store, 1862, became today's pharmacy. 2000 people live in Arrowtown.

A peek down one of the many minuscule alleys at some original stone construction.

Stumbling on Dorothy Brown's Cinema, Bar, and Bookstore was a highlight. I have a feeling my dear, late friend of the same name would have approved.

 A comfy lounge with fireplace.

And beautifully selected books.

Cocktails? Mai oui!

Who was Dorothy Brown? I asked the woman. And she said: nobody really knows. A perfect answer, since I'm projecting the woman I knew onto all of this. The tiny theater was one-of-a-kind. I especially loved the shawls for coziness, and feel certain my Dorothy wouldn't have had it any other way.
And then--scanning the bookshelves--another great happiness. The Elena Ferrante books our friend Carole has been writing and raving about. A magical day, here at the cinema/bar/bookstore. I think this might be the trifecta of life. May I move in?

More alley investigations.

What? The Queen of Flat White Nation on a postage stamp?

Still-working post office, 1915.

Many lovely eateries dot the town, among them French, Mexican, Italian, Spanish, Indian, and Thai.
Masonic Hall, 1887

Miners cottages. The Fork and Tap at left, 1870.

The restaurant Provisions is located in a historic miner's cottage.

Since it's famous for its sticky buns and it was mid-afternoon, approaching the counter I asked if she'd by any chance saved us two. "Um," she said, counting. "We saved you 12!"

 An old Arrowtown church and tenacious apples on a tree.

This is Jessie, sitting on the steps of a skate park along the Arrow River. She's half cocker and half Cavalier King Charles spaniel(s). And she was a sweetheart. With genes like those, what else?

Still panning for gold after 155 years. I should be out there...

On the return


  1. I was in love with this post because of the litter boxes and then I got to Dorothy Brown and well... I know she would love this adventure, but also hope that you'd sit and get cozy comfy and enjoy a cocktail or two. What a wonderful shop and great story!!! HRM

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