Find Free (and Cheap) Activities in Hanmer Springs
A destination branded as a “spa resort town” doesn’t exactly evoke images of affordability, but you’ll be surprised. Hanmer Springs is a destination that’s very achievable to visit on a budget thanks to its array of free and cheap things to do! From an array of walks to fudge tastings and even some free hot pools, should you want to skip the town’s famous thermal spa, Hanmer Springs offers plenty of activities for the budget-conscious traveller. Check out the free and cheap things to do in Hanmer Springs in the list below.
1. Check Out the Views from the Top of the Conical Hill Walk – FREE
Of course, walks are always a great place to start when looking for free things to do in any New Zealand destination. The most popular walk in Hanmer Springs is undoubtedly the Conical Hill Walk. This 30-minute town-accessible walk zigzags through pine forest to a stunning viewpoint overlooking the Hanmer Basin. Bring a picnic, as there are picnic tables at the top too!
Location: End of Conical Hill Road, Hanmer Springs town.
2. See Sculptures or Hike to the Top of Mt Isobel in the Hanmer Forest – FREE
More walks in Hanmer Springs that are worth checking out include those in the Hanmer Forest. The Forest Amble Walk is a short walk suitable for all ages and fitness levels, featuring an array of wooden sculptures to find in the forest. Look out for the wooden dog, tuatara, the giant, the orangutan and more! For something more challenging, hit the Mt Isobel Track – a 5-hour return hike to the alpine tops with panoramic mountain scenery (track may be closed in winter due to snowfall). Closer to town, the Fairy Door Track is a must for families, as explained in the 10 Things to Do in Hanmer Springs with Kids.
Location: Forest Amble Walk – 100 Jollies Pass Road, approximately 1km (0.6 miles) from Hanmer Springs town centre. Mt Isobel Track – Clarence Valley Road Car Park, approximately 3km (2 miles) from Hanmer Springs town centre. Fairy Door Track – End of Bath Street.
3. Relax in the Cow Stream Hot Pools – FREE
If you don’t want to spend the admission fee for the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa, then you do have a free option. It will just take a 16km (10-mile) walk or cycle journey to get there… The Cow Stream Hot Pools are a hidden gem along the St James Cycleway. It takes about 15km (9 miles) from the St James Homestead to reach Cow Stream. Then, follow the stream’s left-side walking track for about 1.5km (0.9 miles) to find the natural hot pools lining the stream.
Location: End of Tophouse Road, approximately 14km (9 miles) from Hanmer Springs town.
4. Check Out the Art Galleries – FREE
Inspire yourself (and perhaps beat a rainy day in Hanmer Springs) by pottering around Hanmer Springs’ art galleries. One of your options is the intimate Amuri Community Arts Council Gallery, hidden within the Hanmer Springs Library. Alternatively, check out the Tait Gallery to browse an array of glasswork, woodwork, pottery, jewellery and paintings from New Zealand artists.
Location: Amuri Community Arts Council Gallery – 49 Amuri Avenue. Tait Gallery – 34 Conical Hill Road.
5. Feed the Animals at the Hanmer Springs Animal Park – CHEAP
Despite being a resort town, Hanmer Springs does offer a couple of affordable activities should you be on a tight budget. For example, meet some of New Zealand’s (and the world’s) famous farm species at the Hanmer Springs Animal Park. For under NZ$15 per adult, pet and feed the sheep, goats, pigs, ponies, donkeys, llamas, alpacas, cow, texas longhorn, ostriches, emus, wallabies, water buffalos and deers. The attraction with undercover picnic areas, light lunch sales and playgrounds is a fantastic activity for families and animal-lovers alike.
Location: 108 Rippingale Road, approximately 2km (1 mile) from Hanmer Springs town centre.
6. Play a Round of Mini Golf or Solve a Maze – CHEAP
Mini golf is also an affordable activity in Hanmer Springs, costing you less than NZ$15 per adult. Furthermore, you have two options to choose from, either the picturesque Alpine Crazy Putt with water features, tunnels and bridges or the gold rush-themed A-Maze-N-Golf. The latter also has a maze puzzle activity where you must solve puzzles to escape “The Lost Temple”. This is also less than NZ$15.
Location: Alpine Crazy Putt – 72 Conical Hill Road. A-Maze-N-Golf – 1 Fraser Close.
7. Hike the St James Walkway – CHEAP
Want to experience a multi-day hike in New Zealand? This could be one of the best opportunities! The St James Walkway is a 66km (41-mile) 4-5-day hike suitable for beginners and experienced hikers alike. The trail incorporates extensive pastoral land, beech forest, sub-alpine tussock areas and mountain vistas. Stay in the Department of Conservation huts along the way, each costing around NZ$15 per person per night. The track is one-way but shuttle services are available to the track for around NZ$30 with the Boyle River Outdoor Education Centre. Learn more about New Zealand’s multi-day hikes in Multi-Day Backpacking Trips in New Zealand: A Complete Guide.
Location: Magdalen Valley Road, Boyle Village, approximately 56km (35 miles) from Hanmer Springs town.
8. Taste Gourmet Fudge – FREE
If you have a sweet tooth, then you’ll love the array of fudge and “lolly” shops (that’s candy or sweets in Kiwi-speak) in Hanmer Springs! Both The Fudge Shop and The Decadent Fudge Co. offer tastings of their gourmet fudge that come in an array of creative flavours. Beware, this activity can easily turn into a “cheap” activity as buying a pack is kind of irristable. For more sweet stuff, pop into The Lolly Pot sells an array of childhood favourites that you’re bound to recognise no matter where you are from.
Location: The Fudge Shop – 16 Conical Hill Road. The Decadent Fudge Co. – 1/30 Conical Hill Road. The Lolly Pot – 5 Conical Hill Road.
9. Peddle Around the Village on a Hanmer Rocket – CHEAP
Probably the most hilarious cheap thing to do in Hanmer Springs, peddling around the town on a “Hanmer Rocket” or a “Village Cruiser” is oodles of fun! Hit all the village highlights in style on a two-seater, four-seater or six-seater quadricycle. Just steering these beasts has a learning curve but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be blasting through the village in no time – like a rocket! Hiring a “Hanmer Rocket” with the Hanmer Adventure Centre costs around NZ$10 for 30 minutes per person and NZ$14 an hour per person. For the “Village Cruiser” at the Alpine Crazy Putt, pay around NZ$18 for 30 minutes per two people or NZ$26 for an hour per four people – longer durations are also available.
Location: Hanmer Adventure Centre – 20 Conical Hill Road. Village Cruisers – 72 Conical Hill Road.
10. Scout Out the Cheap Eats – CHEAP
Everyone’s got to eat! Head out to some of our recommended restaurants, cafes and takeaways for the best deals, such as Saints, a laidback bar and restaurants with a different deal for each day of the week, from two-for-one stonegrills on Wednesday to $20 ribs night on Thursday. For the Hanmer version of street eats, head to Pj’s Chalet, which serves their famous gourmet burgers, as well as fish and chips, homemade savoury pies and ice cream. Finally, treat yourself to an Italian-style gelato at Si Gelato. Choose from a range of creative flavours with dairy-free options. For more dining recommendations, take a look at The Foodie Guide to Hanmer Springs.
Location: Saints – 6 Jacks Pass Road. Pj’s Chalet – 2 Conical Hill Road. Si Gelato – 16 Conical Hill Road.
More Free and Cheap Things to Do in Hanmer Springs
- 10 Amazing Things to Do in Hanmer Springs
- 8 Romantic Activities in Hanmer Springs for Couples
- 10 Things to Do in Hanmer Springs for Foodies
- The Complete Travel Guide to Hanmer Springs
That’s it for our list of cheap and free things to do in Hanmer Springs. For more free stuff, check out the 50 Best Free Things to Do in New Zealand.