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Hanmer guide what to do and best things to see

The buzz of a tourist town is evident. There seem to be more motels and accommodation operators than private homes. Yet Hanmer manages to keep the charm of being a hot mineral springs resort. The surrounding area is beautiful with mountains and landscaping invoking a sense of countryside and space. Families will need to budget for activities as it is not cheap to visit Hanmer. Activities from jet boats, quad biking, hot pools entry, bungee jumping and eating will require forethought. For adults the range of souvenir shops, gift outlets and clothing and homeware retailers gives visitors a shopping therapy buzz. Leave the kids with someone at the pools, grab the credit card and enjoy Hanmer. And Hanmer is all about parting cash from your wallet. The glorious vistas and landscapes are part of the package offered by Hanmer and they are largely free to explore at your leisure.


Are they worth the expense?

Undoubtedly with several water slides, waterfalls to climb up and down, water spouts gushing warm water and enormous water buckets dumping cascading torrents on huddled children. The well designed complex artfully channels swimmers to over 22 thermal pools of differing shapes, sizes and temperatures. For adults there are tranquil relaxing private pools to soak away the screams of happy kids. For the optimal indulgent experience is a massage at the Spa. Your kids will be ecstatic at the variety of activities. Just be sure to check packages and deals being offered and remember it’s a holiday after all.


Hanmer offers a range of walks for families which are entertaining as well as embracing the great outdoors. From art in the forest, sculptures and fairy doors walking becomes magical with lots of secret places for kids to find. Conical Hill is majestic with its mature redwoods offering visitors glimpses of birch edged rivers, farmland and the distant mountains giving urban kids views of the countryside and the perspective space that rural environments have to offer.


Hanmer is fortunate to have a glorious park like grounds in the middle of town. Queen Mary Hospital closed in 2003 after 106 years of service. Heritage buildings dot the park, the 1916 Soldiers’ Block, 1926 Chisholm Ward, and 1929 Nurse’s Home. As befitting a soldier’s rehabilitation hospital gardens and planting were part of the theraphic regime. Mature rhododendrons and azaleas together with swaths of manicured lawns provide plenty of space for impromptu picnics and simply chilling out in the beautifully tended landscaped gardens.


Hanmer is one of New Zealand’s blazing autumn glories where kids can kick leaves, throw bundles of crisp bronzed leaves and roll among the leaves. It is a great way to get everyone away from the new pastime of excited play at the hot pools. Conscripted labour in the early twentieth century was assigned to plant cedar, redwood, cyprus, larch, pines (ponderosa, Corician and Austrian), alder, rowan, yew, and silver birch. The result is a European forest setting in a New Zealand landscape where the mountains, the crisp autumn weather and the resort atmosphere of Hanmer create a magical autumn season.


Mountain biking anyone, grab friends, teenagers or anyone who can balance on two wheels and get outdoors on tracks ranging from easy to thrills and spills for the experienced rider. Quad biking for two means smaller children can participate with parents. Traversing a working farm with spectacular views of river gorges and valleys is fun when kids are screaming with delight.


Bungy jump the Waiau River or jet boat in an adrenaline pumping ride. For rafting buffs the grade 2 Waiau River offers families a 2 hour wet water experience with wetsuits and equipment part of the hire package. For a quieter version there are canoes for hire for family and friends to kayak, either guided or self-guided half or full day excursions. The Waiau River has picnic spots and summer swimming is a pastime although it does have to compete with the delights of the superb hot spring water complex.


Hanmer excels at the variety of activities on offer for holiday entertainment. There are even Llamas for families to enjoy a village stroll or join a multi-day wilderness adventure. There are endless choices even for the most discerning child.


A pint sized ski field adds to Hanmer’s charms. Hanmer Springs is lucky to have its very own ski field. Based only 17km from Hanmer Springs the ski field’s panoramic outlook sweeps over St James and Molesworth Stations. The bonus for skiers is the muscle relief promises of soaking away a day skiing at the hot springs.  The ski field is not the sophisticated operation of Queenstown however the drawcard of a classic ski landscape, plus the magic of Hanmer creates a uniquely New Zealand interpretation of a winter holiday.


At 907 metres Lewis Pass is grassland with broom, spiky matagouri, scented manuka and kanuka with pockets of beech forest. The wild natural landscape is majestic reaching from sky to earth and is an excellent introduction for urban kids to the wide open spaces often featured on New Zealand tourism ads. Get the kids out and about and to find the sheer wonder of South Island beauty. Get the kids to listen for the rolling sound of stones on the river bed and the sound of bird song, especially in spring. Pick up a Department of Conservation brochure from the visitor centre for the kids.

Unique journeys, personal adventures.

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Hanmer Springs nine must do activities for families & kids
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Hanmer Springs nine must do activities for families & kids

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