Christchurch’s next door neighbour
Hurunui can be whisked past on your way to Hanmer Springs, indisputability a great place to soak away the weekday hassles. Hanmer, Hurunui’s showcase is just part of the story of the district. Take you time, check the great outdoors. Hurunui’s scenery is defined by proximity to the Southern alps with sub-alpine tussock landscapes folded into lowland forests. There are the requisite white water rivers, placid lakes and quiet country towns to wander through.
Outdoors in the summer months, inland South Island is comfortable without the stifling heat of inland Australia or even upper North Island. You are relatively close for a cafe fix in either Hanmer or Cheviot yet the wide open spaces of inland Canterbury and the white water rivers beckon. Pitch a tent in the campgrounds, cycle or walk on the many trails and relax.
Rivers and lakes are excellent fly fishing locations with access on easy walking trails in a high country landscape where tussock grasses reign. Brown trout is a firm favourite with hunting lodges offering guides and the necessary licences to explore your inner hunter. For the dedicated fly fishing buffs basing yourself in one of the many lodges specialising in all inclusive packages makes the most of your holiday experience. One such lodge is Riverview Lodge who values good old fashioned hospitality & provides an excellent cuisine based on local produce. A day out with a Riverview fishing guide is an experience of a lifetime. And for members of the group not enthusiastic about fly fishing there is nearby Hanmer Springs with its varied attractions to entice visitors.
Cycling trails including challenging mountain bike tracks attract visitors from all over from the novice city biker to the serious ultimate challenges. Hanmer Springs offers both bike rental, drop off and pick up services to e-bikes for an easy cycle through the scenic countryside. Well known cycle trails, St James Cycle Trail is a favourite with its varied terrain and landscapes. Cheviot is well known for its sealed and unsealed trails from 35km Leamington Valley Circuit to 3km unsealed Ready Money Trail. Hanmer Springs has Conical Hill & Heritage Forest providing walking and cycling trails for all fitness levels.
Outdoor hot springs from the iconic Hanmer Springs to the picturesque boutique Maruia Springs are a welcome delight after a day spent outdoors. Dedicated trampers are rewarded with hot springs on the Hurunui River or Mackenzie Stream, within Lake Sumner Conservation Park. (Hurunui Hut – Hurunui Hot Springs: 2.5 hours return). A reward for cycling the St James multiple day trail is Cow Stream Hot Pools approximately 15km up Peter’s Valley. Cow Stream is another secret hot spring to soak away the bumps of the trail. Hurunui’s glorious natural mineral spas away from the crowds will become firm favourites.
Adrenaline induced spins and acceleration over 100mm of water is part and parcel of the braided river experience. While Hanmer is a base for river trips there are a number of tour operators marketing services in the region. The Waiau River gorge should be on your bucket list as part of the jet boat tour, check that it’s on the route and remember to jump off the rocks into the cool waters. For families tour operators offer grade 2 kayaking half day and full day trips.
There are the headwaters of the Waiau river offering a challenging grade 3 to 3 adventure. The river passes thundering gorges and open valleys as it flows towards Hanmer Springs. Hidden Valleys, an experienced tour operator offers an active adventure on the wild rivers of Canterbury. Or consider Hurunui River as it emerges from Lake Sumner providing excellent summer flow. There are a number of rapids, such as the Maori Gully with year round continuous white water thrills. Check with the tour operator beforehand regarding water flow and safety before departing.
A kiwi classic image is the high country station with its soaring peaks, valley floors and merino sheep dotting the landscape. In the summer months Molesworth Station Day Tour is a must do attraction for devotees of landscapes and photographers delighting in the contrasting scenery. The historic huts, the commentary about contemporary farming practices and land use is fascinating. There is nothing like damper bread, scones and tea out of thermos to make you feel like an authentic high country trekker, if only for a day.
Unique journeys, personal adventures.