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Your guide to Hanmer Springs
All About Hanmer Springs
Hanmer Springs is a resort town in the Canterbury region of New Zealand’s South Island, known for its thermal pools and spas. You could easily spend hours here, soaking in the hot springs and breathing in the scent of cypresses, giant firs, and cedars. But the area also attracts those who’d rather not sit still — hikers, bikers, and skiers traverse the towering mountains, while white-water rafters, anglers, and speed boaters explore glacier-fed rivers and lakes. Nearby, experienced equestrians can ride horses through the St James Conservation Area, one of the largest operating cattle and sheep stations in the country. You could also sip chilled chardonnay from one of a half-dozen wineries in the area, or head further afield to explore one of New Zealand’s premier wine regions. In the town itself, you’ll find shops showcasing local art and artisan products alongside the restaurants and cafes.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Hanmer Springs
The best time to rent holiday homes in Hanmer Springs is during the summer months, when clear skies create the perfect conditions for exploring the St James Cycle Trail. Temperatures from December through February are mild, while winter temperatures from June through August can hover around freezing, which is good if you want snow and the adrenaline rush of the local skiing and snowsports scene. In October, you can tour private gardens and historic homesteads at the Hurunui Garden Festival. In February and July, the Honour Festival Summer and Winter Wellness Retreats are one-day events centered on yoga and healthy cooking demonstrations. Whether you’re a curious eater or a seasoned sommelier, you can visit Hanmer Springs in March for the North Canterbury Wine & Food Festival.
Top things to do in Hanmer Springs
Take the 1.5-hour road trip to Gore Bay Reserve and stand atop the dramatic Cathedral Cliffs for a bird’s-eye view of surfers riding wild waves beyond the rugged coastline below. Stop for fresh seafood just down the road at Motunau Beach, or head out on the water in search of your own catch — look out for salmon and kingfish.
Hanmer Heritage Forest
Trails through the Hanmer Heritage Forest range from stroller- and family-friendly routes to half-day expeditions to conquer Mount Isobel. If you only have an hour, you can hike the Conical Hill Trail for the best view of Hanmer Springs at its 655-foot summit. Children of all ages love the whimsical journey that is the Forest Amble Walk, home to fairy doors, painted rocks, and carved wooden creatures, such as a gentle giant and an orangutan.
Well worth the one-hour drive from Hanmer Springs, Waipara Valley is a popular wine region of more than 90 independently owned vineyards producing award-winning pinot and riesling wines. The valley is also known for woodland nuts and truffles, along with artisanal olive oils and cheeses. Once in the area, you can also book jet boats and river rafts steered by experts at navigating white-water rapids on the Waiau River.