What's the future of Arrowtown's Buckingham Street?

by Lauren Pattemore - May 07, 2024

Should Arrowtown's Buckingham Street become a mixed use space where pedestrians are prioritised? Crux reporter Lauren Pattemore strolls the street to see what the verdict is.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has decided to take the opportunity to ask the community what they think of making Buckingham Street a shared zone as contractors install what's being referred to as a "raised speed table" at the street's entrance. 

As a result of the construction, the street needed to close to traffic for one week anyway. 

"A shared zone prioritises pedestrians but also allows for vehicles traveling at slow speed," the QLDC survey says. 

After only opening for public feedback yesterday, 150 people have already jumped online and submitted feedback for the Buckingham Street Pedestrian Test.  It remains open for feedback until Sunday, May 19.

Arrowtown Promotion and Business Association Nicky Busst says it's unfortunate that the pedestrian-only narrative has caused so much confusion and taken away from the positive approach that council was trying to achieve.

"I think it's unfortunate that with the initial council communication, it's become a pedestrian only narrative...that was never the intent of the survey."

A QLDC spokesperson says a new bike rack with space for up-to six bikes is installed in the place of one carpark on Buckingham Street.

Michelle (right) and Stacey (left) both work on Buckingham Street and shared their thoughts post bike ride.

Michelle, of Arrowtown:

"I've got mixed feelings about it because I am a local and because it's a change."

Michelle shares concern about her income this week as a taxi driver. Normally, she'd park up outside Hyde bar and New Orleans on Buckingham Street and take people home as they come out.

"It will have a big impact on the [taxi] business. There was no provision for a taxi stand anywhere else.

"It's nice [of council to consult the community] but it's not a real test because it's not shared."

She'd been out riding this morning and says that it was good to stand in the middle of the street.

"It's nice and peaceful [without cars]."

Anonymous, of Arrowtown:

She'd read up on the consultation last night to understand what council was asking the community.

She says she'd didn't like the idea of 10 or 15 minute parking along Buckingham Street.

"If it's fast-parking, it takes the heart and feel out of Arrowtown."

She reckons the slow-paced town doesn't suit the fast turnover environment that shorter parking would create.

Anonymous, of Arrowtown:


Anna enjoyed walking down the middle of the street to get her coffee this morning.

Anna, of Arrowtown:

"I'm a fast walker so it's great, I can finally overtake everybody."

She prefers closing the street entirely to cars rather than having it as a mixed-use between cars and pedestrians.

"Yes, it sacrifices a few car parks but it makes it a lot more inviting...[sharing the road] would make it a pain for drivers, and pedestrians would be walking everywhere."

Jen Catley, of Arrowtown:

She spent time in the main street yesterday, but didn't like what she saw, and says it was "not as busy" as usual. 

"It just felt like a ghost town and it lacked energy. It looked like a museum exhibit."

She says she would support more mobility parking and 30-minute time limits along Buckingham Street, but is not a fan of more bike racks going in at the expense of a car park. 

"Why are there more going in when we already have bikes racks that are not being utilised."

She says the pre-existing bike racks at the museum and the library are "always empty".

Ms Catley says she feels "a bit cynical" towards council consultations.

"I think the council will do what they feel is best, they'll consult because they have to... but will they pay attention to it?"

She questions if previous survey undertaken and responses it acquired on this subject are representative of the whole community and what locals want.

"The town still needs to work for the locals."

First time Arrowtown visitors Charlie, left, and JJ, right, are big fans.

JJ, of Byron Bay:

"It's wonderful, I can wander around and not worry about cars." 

Casey, of Melbourne:

"I don't think there should be cars, you'd get run-over. It's already a tourist location so it might as well already be closed to cars."

Kevin, of Christchurch:

"To see it pedestrianised feels very cool. With cars, it would spoil the experience."

He says Arrowtown is one of his favourite places, and he comes every few years. 

"It's a nice vibe [without cars], just strolling around... If there was traffic, I wouldn't be able to keep crossing [the road]. 

He had already spent two hours in Arrowtown by the time he shared his thoughts, and says it was more relaxing experience than previous visits.

"Arrowtown is an easy place to drive through and miss it, without cars, it lets people slow down.

"I saw lots of people taking pictures in the middle of the street."

Anonymous, from the South Island:

"It's great for tourism and instagram-ability. It's handy to walk around and not be alert for vehicles and a lot of older tourists and convenient to take in all the stores."

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