How to Plan the Best Trip to Hanmer Springs
In its own little basin of thermal pools and surrounding alpine scenery, Hanmer Springs is like a holiday within your holiday to New Zealand. Just 90 minutes from Christchurch, the alpine spa resort village is a popular retreat for locals and international travellers alike, boasting one of the largest hot pool and spa complexes in the country fed by the natural springs that give the town its name. For those who prefer to work toward a pampering session, however, there’s plenty of adventure between the jet boat rides, white water rafting and the ever-popular quad biking tours.
So if you’re seeking a real retreat, head to the alpine haven of Hanmer Springs, starting your travel plan with this complete travel guide to Hanmer Springs.
Common Questions About Hanmer Springs
We’re not messing around with this travel guide to Hanmer Springs; here are the most common questions travellers have about visiting.
What is Hanmer Springs Known For?
Hanmer Springs is primarily known for its hot springs, in turn, the largest hot pools complex in New Zealand, the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa.
Where is Hanmer Springs Located?
Hanmer Springs is located inland on the South Island in the northern Canterbury region of New Zealand.
What is the Weather Usually Like in Hanmer Springs?
The daily average temperature is 10.5°C/50.8°F, while the yearly average rainfall is 1,101mm/43.3″ Find out more in What is the Weather Like in New Zealand?
Is Hanmer Springs Good in Winter?
Hanmer Springs is particularly good in winter when the surrounding mountains are often covered in snow and the hot pools are all the more soothing. Although there is a ski field in Hanmer Springs, it is not the most reliable as it requires decent snow coverage to open. The month with the most snowfall is in August.
How Do You Get to Hanmer Springs?
Hanmer Springs is connected to the rest of the South Island via State Highway 7. The closest international airport is Christchurch Airport (1h40mins drive), which also has frequent domestic flights from Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown. Hanmer Springs is on the main national bus route, which you can find more information about in Bus Networks in New Zealand.
What to Do in Hanmer Springs
You probably already know about the indulgent hot pools, but what else is there to do in Hanmer Springs? Hanmer Springs is surrounded by exotic forests, mountain hikes, ski fields, mountain biking trails, quad biking experiences, as well as some of your New Zealand bucket list adventure experiences.
The Top Experiences in Hanmer Springs
What are the must-dos? Here are some of the Hanmer Springs highlights:
- Indulge in the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa
- Go for a walk in the Hanmer Forest
- Experience white water rafting on the Waiau River (more info and book tickets on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Jump on a quad bike tour (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Ride the St James Cycle Trail…
… And oh-so-much more! Check out the 20 Best Things to Do in Hanmer Springs for more information and inspiration.
Rainy Day Activities
Yes, even in an alpine paradise such as Hanmer Springs, it rains. Don’t get caught out by having these rainy day backups at the ready:
- Treat yourself to a spa day at the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa
- Enjoy a wine tasting at the Waiau River Estate
- Feed the animals at the Hanmer Springs Animal Park.
For more rainy day alternatives, check out the 11 Things to Do in Hanmer Springs on a Rainy Day.
Where to Stay in Hanmer Springs
Other than the accommodations we recommend on the righthand side of this complete travel guide to Hanmer Springs (or at the bottom, if on mobile), we have compiled entire lists of places to stay based on price, what’s best for families or couples’ getaway, as well as premium stays. What’s more, each list is compiled by real writers; not some faulty algorithm.
Hanmer Springs for Budget Travellers
While the prospect of an “alpine spa resort” doesn’t evoke images of affordability, you might be surprised at how much fun you can have in Hanmer Springs without paying for jet boat rides, premium hot pools, quad biking or whatever else. Hanmer Springs is surrounded by beautiful hikes between pine forests to tussock-topped mountains. The village is a charming place to explore too with its free art galleries, street eats and affordable attractions including an animal park, mini golf and “rocket bikes”. Find out more about planning an affordable trip with The Guide to Hanmer Springs on a Budget.
Free and Cheap Things to Do
- Get epic views from the Conical Hill Walk
- Soak in the free Cow Stream Hot Pools
- Play a round of mini golf at Alpine Crazy Putt or A-Maze-N-Golf
- Visit the Hanmer Springs Animal Park
- Browse the art galleries.
For more details on each activity and others, see the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Hanmer Springs.
Homely hostels, cheap lodges and various holiday parks make up the budget accommodation scene in Hanmer Springs. Be sure to book in advance in summer to avoid disappointment. Check out the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in Hanmer Springs to see your options.
Hanmer Springs for Luxury Travellers
Home to New Zealand’s most premium hot pools and spa, a scenic golf course and lush alpine surrounds, Hanmer Springs effortlessly brings luxury for travellers wanting to celebrate a special occasion or simply treat themselves. Even the journey to the alpine spa village could be an exceptional one with helicopter flights leaving Christchurch daily. Furthermore, your stay can be wrapped in sensory experiences, from the luxury lodges with spas to the nearby wineries open for tastings. Plan your luxury getaway with The Luxury Guide to Hanmer Springs.
Luxury Tours and Experiences
- Fly and soak in the Hanmer Springs pools from Christchurch with Garden City Helicopters
- Do a Hanmer Springs pools and winery tour with NZSI Tours & Travel (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Tee off at the scenic Hanmer Springs Golf Club
- Soak in the scenery with Hanmer High Country Jeep Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor)…
- … Or from a scenic helicopter tour with Hanmer Springs Helicopters.
For elaboration on these tours and experiences, see the 10 Best Luxury Experiences in Hanmer Springs.
From the Hanmer Springs Hotel to the luxury lodges like Braemar Lodge and Spa, Hanmer Springs offer a variety of special retreats for travellers looking to treat themselves. Find out more in the 10 Best Luxury Accommodations in Hanmer Springs.
Hanmer Springs for Families
A family getaway to Hanmer Springs is well worth the detour from Christchurch and here’s why. The Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa has an amazing waterslide park, there are walks specially designed for children like the Fairy Door Track, and the restaurants in town are especially family-friendly with some even having playgrounds on the premises. An affordable animal park, mini-golf courses and quadricycle ride also make up some of the activity offerings, while adventure excursions like jet boating and white water rafting are suitable for families. Find out more about planning the perfect family getaway with The Guide to Hanmer Springs for Families.
Family Activities and Tours
- Experience the Amuri Jetboat (more details on Viator and Tripadvisor) or white water rafting experience for families (on Viator or Tripadvisor)
- Bond over an archery competition or hire some “rocket bikes” from the Hanmer Adventure Centre (see Viator and Tripadvisor for more details)
- Paddle down the Wairau River in an inflatable canoe with Hanmer Springs Attractions (check them out on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Enter a world of whimsy on the Fairy Door Track
- Go on a llama trek with Hanmer Llamas.
For more details and the locations of each activity and others, head to the 10 Things to Do in Hanmer Springs with Kids.
Whether you prefer a fun-filled holiday park that’s kind on the wallet, a spacious holiday home, or a motel suite, Hanmer Springs offers an array of rooms and accommodation options for families. Check them out in the 10 Best Family Accommodations in Hanmer Springs.
Hanmer Springs for Couples
With breathtaking alpine scenery and sensory experiences in its hot springs, spas and winery, Hanmer Springs is the picture of romance. Combine those with a stay in one of the town’s luxurious lodges or cute budget lodges and you have the perfect recipe for a romantic getaway/anniversary/honeymoon. There’s room to adventure together between the tandem bungy and the stunning bike trails, which make a couple’s massage or hot pool soak all the more blissful. Plan a getaway with that special someone using The Honeymoon & Romantic Getaway Guide to Hanmer Springs.
Romantic Things to Do
- Tackle a tandem bungy jump (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook and KKday)
- Hit the mountain biking trails together
- Peddle around town on a romantic quadricycle
- Indulge in a couple’s massage
- Enjoy a romantic stroll in the Hanmer Forest.
For more details and the locations of each activity and more, head to the 8 Romantic Activities in Hanmer Springs for Couples.
Luxury boutique lodges, budget-friendly inns, spacious luxury apartments and chalet-style motel units: whatever your preferred style, Hanmer Springs is likely to have it. Find out in the 10 Best Romantic Accommodations in Hanmer Springs.
Hanmer Springs for Foodies
Sure, the adventure activities and hot pools do steal all the limelight in Hanmer Springs but foodies are surprised to find a few treats for the tongue! On your way to Hanmer Springs from Christchurch, you’ll pass through the Waipara wine region with cellar doors ready to pour the tastings. In the village, browse and taste gourmet sweet treats at the fudge and “lolly” (candy/sweets) stores and enjoy the restaurants’ high country cuisine. Find out more in The Food Guide to Hanmer Springs: Places to Eat & Food Tours.
Food Tours and Activities
- Embark on a guided or self-guided winery tour of the Waipara Valley
- Enjoy a wine tasting at the nearby Waiau River Estate
- Indulge on the sweet treats of Hanmer Springs’ lolly and fudge shops
- Fish for your own trout on a fly fishing experience
- Check out the Waipara Valley Farmers & Crafts Market.
For more details on each experience, check out the 7 Best Foodie Experiences in Hanmer Springs.
Where to Eat in Hanmer Springs
- Fire & Ice Cafe, Restaurant & Bar (37 Amuri Avenue)
- Five Stags Restaurant and Bar (2 Fraser Close)
- Monteith’s Brewery Bar (47 Amuri Avenue)
- The Powerhouse Cafe (8 Jacks Pass Road)
While many of Hanmer Springs’ accommodations feature their own restaurants that are highlights of the local restaurant scene, some allow you to self-cater should you want to spruce up your own creations. Check them out in the 10 Best Accommodations in Hanmer Springs for Foodies.
More About Hanmer Springs
That’s it for our complete travel guide to Hanmer Springs but by no means the end of our Hanmer Springs travel tips! Check out the following guides for more advice on what to do nearby:
- 7 Best Things to Do in Cheviot
- Hanmer Springs – Guide for Backpackers
- 20 Best Things to Do in Hanmer Springs
Finally, plan more of your South Island trip using the South Island in Two Weeks: Road Trip Itinerary or South Island in One Week: Road Trip Itinerary. You’ll also find more advice for planning an epic NZ trip in The Best Travel Guide to New Zealand.