The rise of Arrowtown


Arrowtown real estate is now dearer than Queens­­­town due to a dwindling supply of sections. 

Local agent Richard Newman, who’s witnessed Arrowtown’s phenomenal growth during the past 20 years, is concerned it’s now at the crossroads. 

In 1992, he notes sections were selling for $40,000. 

Their value has increased sevenfold, Newman says. 

Nowadays, hardly any bare sections are left and those ones are very dear, he says. 

Six sold last year, for an average $352,000, and three the year before. 

“Back in the late ’90s, early 2000s, we were selling 15 to 20 sections a month.” 

Three subdivisions were then on the go – Dawsonvale, Dennison Estate and Adamson. 

Arrowtown was touted as New Zealand’s fastest growing town – the 2006 census recorded a 27.1 per cent population rise in the previous five years. 

During the past 10 years, however, there’s only been Jim Boult’s Butel Park, David Broomfield’s Chartres Green and the exclusive Advance Terrace extension to the long-running Adamson subdivision, where a section recently sold for $680,000. 

Newman is adamant that the controversial Arrowtown South subdivision, which is in the hands of the Environment Court, has to go ahead. 

It would provide 200-plus affordable sections during the next 10 years, Newman says. 

“Young families can’t move into the town because it’s unaffordable. If this NIMBY [‘not in my back­­yard’] element stops growth and development, the town will die. 

“There won’t be a school in 15 years’ time. 

“Arrowtown’s going to become another Aspen because if you lock it up, the prices go up.” 

If Arrowtown South doesn’t proceed, Newman predicts there’ll be pressure to allow infill housing – compromising the size of sections – in the town’s historic zone. 

“The very thing that these people are trying to preserve – the heritage of the town – will backfire on them because you’re going to get infill. 

“Already there is the precedent set of people cutting sections when they shouldn’t have been able to.” 

As an alternative, Newman says some out-of-towners, for whom money’s no object, are buying existing houses, knocking them down and building new ones. 

This will only further inflate prices, Newman comments.