New Zealand, with its population of just over 4 million, is full of a number of scarcely populated small towns, most of them heavily catered towards the many tourists, and visitors that arrive into this beautiful country each year.
Hanmer Springs (not HAMMER, as auto-correct likes to revert to), or Hanmer, as its often shortened to, is one of these little touristy towns. I recently had a quick fling with this town on an overnight weekend trip a few weeks ago.
I first visited Hanmer Springs a few years ago, on my way to the West Coast, and at the time, I didn’t think too much of it. It was warm, there were plenty of people around, but there didn’t seem to be too much to do. How wrong was I? ..
I was invited to Hanmer by a friend who was celebrating a birthday, and had planned to propose to his girlfriend (she said yes, so we were also celebrating that too!)
Where is Hanmer Springs?
Hanmer Springs is located approximately 2 hours North of Christchurch. Take the Main North Road for 52km, a little further North of Amberley, then turn left into the road to Hanmer. The drive is spectacular, with mountains following you as you wind round virtually deserted roads. It is Autumn here, so the trees were a wonderful mix of orange and yellow, perfectly set into the backdrop of a crisp blue sky.
The drive took about 2 hours, with a lunch stop factored in along the way.
It was much colder than I was expecting in Hanmer, being a lot higher in altitude, than the rather flat Christchurch. I had left a sunny and warm house in my shorts, but quickly rethought my attire.
There are many accommodation options in Hanmer – from the basic backpackers, to lodges, and holiday homes, right up to the top notch hotels. Hanmer can cater for any kind of tourist.
The friends we went with hired out a wee holiday home .. otherwise known as a Bach in New Zealand. For 8 of us, we paid $20 each for the night .. not bad, when you get your own space. It was basic, but had three rooms, and plenty of spare mattresses to crash on. The kitchen was well equipped with what we needed and so we just rock up with food, and drink and got on with it.
We didn’t do a great lot on our first few hours, apart from drink, and hear of one friends exciting proposal idea, whilst his now Fiancé was in the kitchen, helping to prepare dinner.
The proposal plan got underway after dinner, when we all went out in near pitch blackness, to walk up Conical Hill in Hanmer … it was a fairly steep hill, taking about 25 minutes to get to the top. It was freezing, and none of us had a torch, so we did what the modern day kids do these days, and used our phones for light.
At the top, we made ourselves scarce, whilst the lovely couple walked further up to a view point, where he proposed. A shout of “we’re engaged” from the top, signified our freedom to run up and congratulate them.
Before walking down, we all lay on the ground, watching the stars. It was such a clear night … I wish I had a better camera at the time, to be able to capture it.
The night ended, with a walk into the town itself, where things were kicking off .. a few hen and stag parties, as well as girly weekenders filled the two main bars.
We had a few drinks to celebrate, and later returned to our warm wee Bach (the heating went on full whack, as it was of course covered in our costs of the rental.)
Our rental had to be vacated by 11am the next morning, so we had a quick clean up and off we went.
After a morning coffee, we had a wander through town, pondering on what we’d do. There are actually a number of activities that Hanmer offers – horse trekking, mini golf, quad biking, bungy jump, rafting and river boat rides, to name but a few.
Hanmer is also home to the famous hot pools (hence the name Hanmer Springs), with many of the pools heated up from 36-40 degrees Celsius. The cost of a day pass is $20. I had my togs (swimming gear) with me, but not everyone did, so we ditched that idea.
In the end, we headed down to Thrillseekers Adventures, to watch one member of our group Bungy jump. I was almost tempted to do it again, as it was such a nice day, but for $185, my wallet said no.
The view from the bridge was very pretty .. the sky was a perfect blue again, it was warmer, and the trees were golden. At that moment, I felt so blessed to have been where I was …
After the bungy, we drove home … tired, but excited knowing that two friends had made this commitment to be together.
A visit to Hanmer Springs, is great for a number of occasions. At the very least, its a great place for a relaxing weekend.
If you are in Christchurch, Hanmer Springs is very doable for a day trip, weekend, or longer. I am glad I got to return.