Hanmer Springs is one of the Canterbury region’s gems, with natural thermal pools, impressive mountainous landscapes and a relaxing atmosphere it’s a definite must in an ultimate NZ road trip.
Though the region is known mostly for its award-winning thermal pools, there is so much more to see and do in the region. This article will show you 10 things to see and do in and around Hanmer Springs to fill out your travel itinerary to this beautiful part of the South Island.
10. Explore Hanmer Forest Park Short Walks
Hanmer Forest is so beautiful exploring it should definitely be on the list of musts in the region. Lace up your walking shoes and embark on one of the short walking trails through the Heritage Forest to get up close to the flora and fauna and enjoy beautiful views from atop the hill.
All of the walking trails take no longer than an hour so if you set aside a few hours to explore the forest you can easily walk a majority of the trails. Short trails include the five minute Arboretum Track and the 20 minute Natural Trail. The Fir Trail, Dog Stream Reserve and Forest Amble are all half hour journeys while the Camp Track is a 45 minute trail, however all will take you further into the forest.
If you’re looking for a longer trail the Woodland Walk, Forest Walk, Conical Hill Walk and Majuba Walk all take an hour to complete. Our top pick is the Conical Hill Walk that will take you on a zig zag journey to the top of the 550 metre summit for spectacular views of the surrounding region.
There are two great drawing cards for exploring Hanmer Forest, the first is that it’s free and the second is that dogs are allowed on all trails, so you can bring along your four-legged friend on your adventure.
9. Visit Hanmer Springs Animal Park
Locations: 108 Rippingale Road, Hanmer Springs
A mecca for all things animals, Hanmer Springs Animal Park is an awesome attraction for all ages. With enough animals to keep everyone occupied for the whole day there’s never a dull moment on the farm. Enter the newly erected wallaby enclosure, hand feed sheep, lambs, pigs, donkeys, llamas, alpacas and cows, get to know some of the more international animals such as a Texas longhorn, tibetan yak and water buffalo.
If you’re after a cuddlier, cuter animal to make friends with you can walk around the ducks, geese and chickens, and get up close to the guinea pigs and giant flemish rabbits. The park also offers pony and donkey rides ($10) around the park which are great fun for the young ones.
The park is also home to an on-site cafe. Open for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea and serving a range of coffees, teas, shakes, cold drinks and food you can watch over the farm as the young ones play about. A visit you won’t want to forget, Hanmer Springs Animal Park also has a gift shop where you can purchase souvenirs for your time at the park.
Hanmer Springs Animal Park is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 10am until 5pm in the summer months (Nov-Mar) and from 10am until 4pm during the winter months (Apr-Oct).
- Children (2-14 yrs) $6
- Senior/Students $10
- Adults $12
- Family $35
8. Go Trout and Salmon Fishing
The lakes and rivers surrounding Hanmer Springs are full to the brim with trout and salmon making for an anglers wonderland. Boasting some of the best fishing in all of New Zealand, avid and amateur fishermen alike will be in their element in the region.
There are a number of organised tours that operate in the region and will take visitors to a handful of different lakes to wet their line. Some of the popular spots in the region include Lake Sumner, Lake Taylor and Loch Katrine for fly fishing, Motunau Beach for snapper and Acheron River for large brown trout.
7. Ride the St James Cycle Trail
Location: St James Conservation Area
Travelling through the St James Conservation Area the St James Trail is a 64 kilometre trail travelling through the former Station. Crossing a mix of terrain including alpine meadows, grassy river flats, rivers and high country lakes the surroundings are ever changing with each equally or more impressive then the last. This isn’t a trail for the faint hearted, riders are warned to be fully prepared for any situation as New Zealand weather can, at times, be quite unpredictable.
If the full trail is too much for you, there is a family-friendly option travelling along Homestead Run. The trail was opened in 2013 and is suitable for a range of fitness types and ages. Following a loop, the trail begins and ends at the St James Homestead and stretches for around 15 kilometres.
Pack yourself a picnic lunch and pull up the brakes at any location catches your eye, but it’ll be quite difficult to choose a lunch location as every where you look is simply breathtaking.
6. Visit Marble Point Winery
Location: 2254 Mouse Point Road State Highway 7, Hanmer Springs
Taste your way around Marble Point Winery is a definite must for wine and food lovers visiting the region. Overlooking the Waiau River valley towards the Southern Alps, the Marble Point Winery’s Tasting Room is where all of the magic happens. With a gourmet menu cooked to order in their onsite kitchen as well as daily wine tastings in the cellar door, ‘foodies’ will be right in their element with a visit to this local winery.
A boutique winery located in close proximity to the village and has been operating since 2008. The perfect place to sit and relax and enjoy a glass of wine or two (or three) with a delicious meal from the restaurant. The vineyard and cellar door is located just a short 10 minute drive from Hanmer Springs village.
5. Go Quad Biking
Hanmer Springs has the perfect terrain for quad biking, and with an organised tour you will be taken on an adventure through the region on the back of your own powerful four-wheel motorbike. Prepare to get muddy, dusty, dirty and wet, but don’t let that deter you as this is some of the most fun you’ll have in the region.
Under the leadership of an expert guide who knows the area like the back of their hand, you’ll be taught how to ride and control the bike before embarking on the scenic journey. Suitable for a range of ages and skill levels – even novices can sign up – riders will have the choice of an automatic or manual quad bike in a small size or large size. Children are more than welcome to join in on the tour however the minimum age for children is 6 years to be a passenger and 12 years to be a solo rider.
A safe, enjoyable and challenging experience, if you’re looking for a thrill while in Hanmer Springs then this is one of the top picks for you.
- Children (6-13yrs) $97.02
- Adult $146.02
- Twin Seater Bike $185.22
4. Enjoy the rush of White Water Rafting
Local company, Thrillseekers Adventures also runs white water rafting adventures down Hanmer River. The grade 2 river will provide rafters with a challenging yet fun adventure down the rapids. One minute you’ll be calmly drifting down the river and the next you’ll be navigating your paddles along the rocky rapids.
Again, there is no prior experience necessary as the experienced guides will coach you through the whole experience and will be with you on the raft. The best part about it is that the whole family can enjoy this adventure. Children as young as 6 years of age are allowed to climb in to the 10-man boat as long as all riders fit the supplied safety equipment.
The two hour journey does include all necessary equipment however rafters need to bring swimwear, a dry set of clothes to change into, a towel and sunscreen because you will get wet on this exciting journey.
- Children (6-13yrs) $77.42
- Adults $146.02
3. Take the leap and go Bungy Jumping
If you’re brave enough to take the leap, Hanmer Springs is one of the best locations in New Zealand to do so. Jumping head first off the 135 year old Ferry Bridge, you’ll experience the thrill of bungy jumping combined with beautiful scenery. The 35 metre jump towards the flowing river is perfect for adrenaline junkies and those looking to experience the rush of bungy jumping.
To commemorate your jump you can purchase a photo package of your jump and you’ll receive a complimentary t-shirt and certificate. Bungy jumping was born in New Zealand so if you’ve been looking to take the leap then you’re in the right place.
The jump only takes 20 minutes to complete and is suitable for children as young as 12 years of age, however jumpers must fit the minimum weight requirement of 35 kilograms. Additionally, if you don’t want to take the leap on your own you can sign up for a tandem jump with a friend to share this incredible experience.
- $165.62 per person
2. Climb aboard a Jet Boat ride
Location: 839 Hanmer Springs Road, Hanmer Springs
Zip through the scenic and famous Waiau Gorge with an exhilarating jet boat ride from Hanmer Springs. Reaching speeds of up to 90km/h and zooming through narrow gorges and past towering cliffs, the 40 minute ride will give you 360 spins, slides, splashes and more.
Suitable for children aged between 3 and 13 years, this proves to be the perfect adventure for the whole family. Riders are advised to allow at least an hour to complete the ride with safety briefings and intros conducted before climbing in to the boat. All necessary equipment is supplied including life jackets, so riders are only asked to bring along a spare set of clothes to change into if they wish.
- Children (3-13yrs) $58.80
- Adults $112.70
- Family (2A + 3C) $293.02
1. Relax at the Thermal Pools
Location: 42 Amuri Ave, Hanmer Springs
One of the most famous and popular attractions in Hanmer Springs, the Thermal Pools are a definite must-see which is why they are topping this top 10 list. The ultimate relaxing adventure, you could easily spend the whole day submerged in the warm thermal pools.
There are a number of ways to experience the pools, there’s a basic pass which will give you access to the outdoor pools, freshwater lap pool and the activity pool. If you upgrade to the Super Pass you can access the sauna for half an hour, choose between a steam or private thermal pool, and have the option of a water slide pass or return entry pass. This is a great escape for all ages making an ideal activity for the whole family. If you’re visiting Hanmer Springs be sure to pay a visit to Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools, you won’t regret it!
In addition, if you’re looking for all things to see and do around Hanmer Springs, see our full catalogue.