(This post is the second of three posts about our time in Queenstown. The first one is here.)
Our second day in Queenstown we visited Arrowtown, a gold mining area within a short drive of where we were staying.
Highlights included the Chinese settlement, which has been carefully conserved and reconstructed from the late 19th century.
It was interesting for me to learn about Chinese immigrants to New Zealand and to compare what I had learned in a graduate class about Chinese immigration history and policy in the U.S. There were some unsurprising parallels between the two countries’ views on Asian newcomers, including both a restriction on and subsequent fear/hatred of the immigrants.
“When Chinese people arrived in New Zealand looking for gold, they weren’t accepted very well,” says Charlotte. “It was very cold the first winter after most of them arrived, and the men came alone, leaving their families back in China.”
Most of the men wanted to save $100-150 New Zealand dollars to take home; that sum would allow them to buy a small farm and live a subsistance life with their wives and children. Sadly, more than 1 in 7 Chinese goldminers died in New Zealand due to difficult conditions and failed gold ventures.
Next we walked down quaint Buckingham Street, lined with goldmining-era buildings from the late 1860s. I had read in a guide to South Otago that a local bakery has amazing sticky buns and the kids and I had set our hearts on getting one. Alas, when we arrived, they were sold out.
We consoled ourselves with silly photo spots and fudge, which we ate on the village green.