It’s impossible to find a single tree in early 1860s renderings and photographs of Arrowtown, so the transformation since first settlement has been nothing less than extraordinary.
Some of the first seedlings were lovingly planted by one Constable William Brown, who was stationed at the Arrowtown police camp in the 1870s. At that time the police encampment on Camp Lane and Buckingham Street occcupied some 10 acres and included a drill hall, court house (built in 1895), the constable’s house and station.
When the forward thinking green-fingered police officer moved on after 12 years of horticulture effort, he left a legacy which the ‘Otago Witness’ described as ‘a vertitable botanical gardens laid out with exquisite taste, and kept in the most exemplary order’, and one which tourists recognise today.
As outbuildings rose and fell, a new police residence and office was erected in 1900. In time a garage was erected adjacent to the main house in a space which was variously used as police barracks and a horse stable. This outbuilding was later reincarnated as B&B accommodation – known as OLD NICK, and eventually a day spa.
Today the constable’s house, stables and the adjacent 1867 goal, are the only buildings left on the original site.
Attracted by the history, natural beauty and unique qualities of Arrowtown, the historic category 3 residence was purchased in early 2010 by Australians, Henry and Nina Crawford, who have renovated the accommodation wing of OLD NICK and rebranded the business as Crawfords.
Crawford, who is known for his sense of style and attention to detail is no stranger to high-end hospitality. In 1987 the Emmy award winning Australian TV producer landed on a remote beach in Fiji and set about creating what was to become an iconic resort which regularly found itself in ‘World’s Best’ lists.
‘Vatulele’, this product of his fertile imagination, was ultimately named ‘Hotel Luxury Hotel of the Year in 2000. Henry served as an International Board Member of SLH for 5 years, representing members with a geographic spread from Hawaii to Japan and India.
After 20 years playing in the tropics, Henry, and his wife, Nina, have opted for a quieter lifestyle and the cooler Southern NZ climate.
Says Henry, “we have always been attracted to the Queenstown area and spent three years looking for the right property to transform into something more intimate than our Fiji venture, which we sold in 2007. This area gives us a great opportunity to create an interesting new accommodation product in Arrowtown/Queenstown”.
“We believe Arrowtown has tremendous growth potential with its great restaurants, history museum, three 18 hole golf courses, wonderful walking tracks (which I use daily) and close proximity to the two major local ski fields, “ said Henry. “We believe we are extending and supplementing the town’s current room inventory with a more ‘designer’, but comfortable option.”
And, adds Henry, “we think that Constable Brown would be justifiably proud if he could see the the outcome of his planting – especially the two magnificent listed trees we have on the site. They are just fantastic specimens, and testament to Arrowtown’s tough tree protection policy”.
Crawfords is located on Buckingham Street. The homestead, OLD NICK, is set well back from the road in spacious gardens, with wonderful mountain views, yet is conveniently located only a couple of minutes walk away from the town centre with its charming cafes and restaurants and olde worlde shops.
Between developing this new hospitality experience with Nina, Henry publishes an electronic newsletter devoted to the world’s best luxury lodges (www.luxurylodge.com).
For travel assistance please contact the Rainbow Tourism Concierge