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Travel Guide

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

  • 5 minutes

Hanmer Springs @Audley Travel

In this Article

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 Springs, New Zealand @Stuff
Hanmer Springs @Stuff

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.


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

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

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.

Hanmer lies in the Hurunui district with its food and wine trail nearby. For families there are plenty of attractions in Hurunui with details for a great day trip from Hanmer check Hurunui Road Trips – Routes & Itineraries – Best Bits.

Hurunui to Hanmer is 53 km.


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 Springs @Stuff
Hanmer Springs @Stuff



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.

Families have plenty of attractions with many FREE. For detailed list from adrenaline adventure jet boating, to shared cycle trails, check Hanmer Springs: Things To Do and See – Best Bits for your go list of activities and enjoy Hanmer.



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, New Zealand @TripAdvisor
Hanmer llamas @TripAdvisor
@Hanmer Springs Animal Park
@Hanmer Springs Animal Park

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.

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, New Zealand @Karen Brown
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.

Autumn in Hurunui, New Zealand
Autumn in Hurunui


  • Walks is a great option with the adorable Art in the Forest a family favourite
  • A road trip checking what to do in Hurunui, its only 53 km away from Hanmer and definitely worth exploring the district Hanmer sits in. For road trip inspiration check Hurunui Road Trips – Routes & Itineraries – Best Bits.
  • While Hanmer Hot Springs charge admission fees, investigate multiple day passes for families and it will be more cost effective. It is likely the kids will not want to leave the resort. And you get to book a private massage creating a great holiday experience in a world class thermal spa


Mt Lyford Ski Resort, New Zealand @Mountainwatch
Mt Lyford Ski Resort @Mountainwatch


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.



  • 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.

Mount Lyford webcam WEBCAMS

Mt Lyford – Terako Hut, Lake Stella, New Zealand @Airbnb
Mt Lyford – Terako Hut, Lake Stella @Airbnb

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.

@North Canterbury Wines
@North Canterbury Wines

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.


Discover the cool climate wines. The low rainfall, consistent high summer sunlight hours and lengthy twilight in the dry autumns provides phenolic ripeness and complexity in the wines. It is a popular option to spend the day leisurely cycling the compact wine region. For details check Wine Trail for a map and best way to get around. Hanmer is within the Hurunui, North Canterbury district.


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, New Zealand @Visit Hurunui
The Powerhouse Cafe, Hanmer Springs @Visit Hurunui


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 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.

Camping options range from budget no frills camping grounds to comfortable standard motels. Check for details and remember travelling times for your must-go activities.

2 on Rutherford, New Zealand @Visit Hanmer Springs
2 on Rutherford @Visit Hanmer Springs

Travel pack information

The journey is worth it.

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