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Travel Guide

Travel to Hanmer Springs, things to see & do: trip guide

Hanmer Springs @Audley Travel

It’s a long way to Iceland and why bother anyway when we have our own treat…

The best time to visit could be considered winter. The snow is carpeting the ground with a biting alpine southern wind funneling through Hanmer. Winter outdoor heaven is the ski fields, outdoor adrenaline things to do contrasting with heavenly indulgence soaking in constantly warm mineral springs.

Hanmer is an alpine playground for the adventurous to jump, kick and thurtle themselves off, a quiet forested reserve for leisurely strolls and a world-class geothermal treat to add that special magic. Who needs to go to Iceland when Hanmer Springs offers the bundle of hot, cool and darn right freezing as one delicious melt the toes package.

Hanmer Springs is classic Kiwi outdoors, a touch of pampering (or a lot depending on your preferences) and spectacular scenery to gorge on. A great location for a week or two exploring the Hurunui district is a great idea. Historic villages dot the landscape and the Waiau river valley is an adventure hotspot with rafting, jet boating, kayaking, bungy jumping, quad biking and off road treks nicely rounded out as an all season destination with two ski fields, Mount Lyford and Hanmer ski field.

Best time to visit

Year round.

Winter outdoors adventures combined with hot mineral springs pampering.

Spring – Summer walks, outdoor adventures, trekking in the great outdoors, river picnics and leisurely exploration of local open cellar doors.

Autumn colour, the blaze of gold, yellow and amber as the season mellows into winter combined with the Hanmer and district treats and temptations for visitors.


Winter snow conditions. Hanmer Springs Ski Field Snow Forecasts and Conditions

Weather Forecast for Hanmer-Springs | WeatherWatch – New Zealand’s Weather News Authority.


Getting there

Hanmer Springs, at an altitude of 385 metres, is 135 kilometres north of Christchurch, off Lewis Pass Highway.  Bus Christchurch to Hanmer Springs, Intercity is a national public bus company. Hanmer is 135 km from Christchurch or 130 km from Kaikoura.


There are local bus services which at the moment are either moving to a charter service or hiberating due to covid19.



Hanmer is a thriving spa destination. Hanmer has avoided Queenstown’s mass tourism avoiding the questions about the environment, the experience and large crowds. The Thermal Resort has a number of differing attractions from children focused swings, slides and tunnels to pools with a range of temperatures. You can ease yourself into the scalding waters by degrees.

Hanmer Springs @Stuff



Trekking with llamas or simply hanging out with your new best buddies. It is infectious fun leading a llama around Hanmer village. Your buddy does all of the heavy lifting and you get to explore the neighbourhood. The option of multiple day backcountry treks is another way to explore the region. The guided, catered tours will tap into your bucket list encounters. Who needs to go to South America when there is a llama experience next door in the Southern Alps.

Hanmer llamas @TripAdvisor

Animal Park

For urban dwellers younger visitors get a buzz out being up close and personal with red deer, goats, emus, donkeys and sheep. The sight of children running their hands through the wool of a sheep and hand feeding deer makes for a gentle introduction to animals in a domesticated setting. The Hanmer Springs Animal Park is located on the Crawford Walkway, walking distance from the town centre. The cafe is a great spot for lunch and interaction with the animals. Perhaps the vegetarian option is the best choice for lunch.

@Hanmer Springs Animal Park

Horse riding

Hanmer has a horse riding social club supporting horse riders in the district. Hanmer Springs Horse Riders Inc. – High country horses and hospitality. The club does not conduct horse treks rather it is an advisory group informing visitors about the best trekking spots. Due to covid19 the local horse trekking business has closed its doors.

Alpine Horse Safaris, which is not in the Hanmer area has an excellent reputation for individual horse trekking experiences. SAFARIS FOR 2015/2016 SEASON. The safaris are for experienced riders.

Hanmer Springs Horse Riders @Karen Brown



The following walks have been described by Department of Conservation Hanmer Forest Park short walks: Walking and tramping in Hanmer Forest Park, Canterbury region. For walking fans also check the following Hanmer Trails. The website is an excellent introduction to lesser known walks such as The Timberland trail, The Forest Journey, Jolliffe Saddle Trail and Upper Dog Stream Trail.



MOUNT LYFORD is accessible from Hanmer Springs with a shuttle pick up at the access gate/ top of the village: 9:30am, returns at 4pm from the mountain $20/person. Booking is essential: ph 0276298083. 033156116, Lyford small village offers various winter season accommodation facilities as well as the ski field. The Terako ski area, an ideal family field, offers a great learners area as well as challenging runs for intermediate and advanced skiers. The Terako Day Lodge/restaurant and car park is centrally located. There is Ski & Snowboard Hire.

Mt Lyford Ski Resort @Mountainwatch



  • 1750m at the top of Mt Terako
  • 1510m at the Terako Basin lodge
  • 1249m at the Lake Stella area

Vertical Drop:

  • 450m at Terako Basin


  • 30% Beginner
  • 40% Intermediate
  • 30% Advanced


  • One T-bar
  • Two platters
  • One 180m fixed grip
  • One advanced rope tow: LOWER & UPPER.
Mt Lyford – Terako Hut, Lake Stella @Airbnb

Mount Lyford webcam WEBCAMS

Hanmer Springs Ski Area AMURI (HANMER) RESERVE SKI FIELD. Hanmer Springs Ski Area is run by the Amuri Ski Club, founded in 1957. Three tows operate, a beginners fixed grip tow, nutcracker rope tow and a poma tow.

Elevation is 1769m, vertical is 310m, terrain is 52ha.

Groomer and daily lessons for skiing and boards. There is mountain accommodation available during the season. The car park is at the base of the huts and it’s just a short walk to the tows. There are instructors for lessons which must be booked in advance. Rental of ski equipment must (Please note all rentals must be organised in town from Hanmer Adventure Centre – there is no rental gear on the mountain).INCLUDES: skis, boots, poles/snowboard, boots hire, 1 hour group lesson and use of the learners area all day.


Check our Hurunui travel guide for what to see and do.

@North Canterbury Wines


Hanmer with its polished visitor experience is awash with excellent cafes, shops, art galleries and restaurants supporting the visitor experience. Hanmer, with its hospitality badges for excellence does not disappoint when it comes to food and feast. Local Canterbury vineyards are well represented as well Monteith’s Brewery have a bar on tap situated in the centre of town. The best thing about not cooking is everything is within walking distance. The entire gamut of cuisines is available from classic burgers to Asian to fusion experimentation.

The Powerhouse Cafe, Hanmer Springs @Visit Hurunui


The distinctive  Art Deco-style hotel (1930) marked the beginnings of tourism and a small town grew up around the hotel. While the hotel has closed there are numerous accommodation options, ranging from a campground to luxury spa lodges. Hanmer is a short detour from State Highway 7, which crosses the Lewis Pass to the West Coast and features another well-developed thermal resort, Maruia Springs. Whatever your budget, whether it be for a short break, weekend away or a long holiday with the family and friends or for a romantic getaway, Hanmer Springs has a place to stay for you. Link here for details Hanmer Springs and Hurunui Accommodation.

2 on Rutherford @Visit Hanmer Springs


There are public shuttles from Christchurch and once in the village, due to its compact nature it is not necessary to drive anywhere. Currently the travel guide has not identified any rental bike hire located in the town.


The journey is worth it.

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