The Guide to Hanmer Springs for Families© Amuri Jetboat & Quad Bikes
The Guide to Hanmer Springs for Families

The Travel Guide to Hanmer Springs for Families

© Amuri Jetboat & Quad Bikes

Plan a Family Trip to Hanmer Springs

An alpine resort town nestled in the valleys of Canterbury, Hanmer Springs is an idyllic getaway for families. You’ll find this gem just 90 minutes from Christchurch, boasting soft adventure activities suitable for even the youngest members of the family, as well as a thermal spa complex taking natural mineral water from the springs that the town takes its name from. For families, this means the perfect blend of memorable active adventures and indulgent relaxation. Hop on one of the family-friendly jet boat tours, feed the animals at an alpine farm park or relax in the hot springs while the kids go wild on the waterslides. With spacious accommodation in an array of layouts also, you have everything you need for a fun family retreat in Hanmer Springs.

Plan your getaway, including adventure activities, all-weather options and free things to do, with this complete travel guide to Hanmer Springs for families.

Things to Do in Hanmer Springs with Kids

  • Experience the Amuri Jetboat or white water rafting experience for families
  • Bond over an archery competition or hire some “rocket bikes” from the Hanmer Adventure Centre
  • Paddle down the Wairau River in an inflatable canoe with Hanmer Springs Attractions
  • Enter a world of whimsy on the Fairy Door Track
  • Enjoy a short hike to the top of Conical Hill
  • Soak and slide at the Hanmer Spring Thermal Pools & Spa
  • Feed the animals at the Hanmer Springs Animal Park
  • Play a round of mini golf
  • Go on a llama trek with Hanmer Llamas
  • Spend the day in the snow at the Hanmer Springs Ski Area.

For more details and the locations of each activity, head to the 10 Things to Do in Hanmer Springs with Kids.

The Guide to Hanmer Springs for Families© Amuri Jetboat & Quad Bikes

Family Adventure Activities

Experience some of the adrenaline activities that New Zealand is famous for, just two hours away from Christchurch! The experiences in Hanmer Springs are certainly family-friendly, with operators like Amuri Jetboat & Quad Bikes – Alpine Rafting Adventures offering jet boat tours and rafting suitable for families. Join them for their iconic Amuri Jet experience, blasting over the diverse Wairau River with narrow gorges, shallow braids and white water rapids. The experience is suitable for kids from three years old and up. Learn more about the jet boat tour on Viator or Tripadvisor.

Alternatively, their white water rafting experience for kids aged six years and up is another fun way for families to get on the river. Marvel at amazing rock formations like the faultline at Marble Point and the Wairau Gorge, with an opportunity to jump in for a swim in the crystal clear waters. See the white water rafting tour on Viator or Tripadvisor.

For soft adventure activities and family bonding sessions, why not check out the activities by the Hanmer Adventure Centre? A highlight is their archery experience, with tuition on how to get the best shot. Then, it’s a competition for the bullseye! Plus, the activity only takes around an hour, so even those with the shortest attention spans can enjoy.

On the other hand, hire one of the Adventure Centre’s hilarious “rocket bikes” – a four-seater, four-wheeler peddle bike that makes for a fun way to get around town. Check out Hanmer Springs Adventure Centre’s offerings on Viator or Tripadvisor.

And when all else fails, you can always rely on mini golf. Or two mini golf courses, as is the case in Hanmer Springs! Your first option is A-Maze-N-Golf, which is not just a gold rush-themed 18-hole mini golf course but also holds a fun maze experience for the whole family. Solve the puzzles of the Lost Temple maze to escape while discovering lots of surprises along the way. Your second option is the Alpine Crazy Putt mini golf course – 18 holes of fun with water features, tunnels, bridges and more to tackle in the middle of Hanmer Springs Village.

For more family adventures, check out the 10 Things to Do in Hanmer Springs with Kids.

The Guide to Hanmer Springs for Families© Hanmer Springs Attractions

All-weather Family Activities

Whatever the weather, Hanmer Springs has a variety of experiences to keep families entertained. The most popular option is undoubtedly Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa, one of the largest hot pool complexes in New Zealand. Relax in one of the many themed hot pool areas, whether it’s having a splash in the main pools or finding small cove-like pools nestled in landscaping that reflects nature. There are kids’ pools with all sorts of playground features, as well as the waterslides, a lazy river and more!

As long as the weather isn’t too crazy, a rainy day could be a good day to try the family-friendly canoe trip with Hanmer Springs Attractions. Double-up in a fun inflatable canoe and journey along the gentle waters and mild rapids of the Waiau River on a six-hour adventure. Experience the stunning countryside and stop on the riverbank for a scenic picnic. The journey ends with a jet boat ride back to the base. The minimum age for the trip is six years old. For more details on the tour, check out Hanmer Springs Attractions on Viator and Tripadvisor.

Breaking away from the adventure activities, an alternative thing to do in Hanmer Springs with the little ones is to treat them to a day at the Hanmer Springs Animal Park. Drop by and hand-feed the animals, including sheep, goats, pigs, ponies, donkeys, llamas, alpacas, cow, texas longhorn, ostriches, emus, wallabies, water buffalos and deers. There are light lunches and snacks available to buy (for yourselves, that is, not the animals) or bring a picnic and make use of the undercover picnic area of this all-weather farm park, also featuring play areas for the kids.

For more rainy day alternatives, check out the 10 Things to Do in Hanmer Springs on a Rainy Day.

The Guide to Hanmer Springs for Families©

Free Family Activities

Breaking up your itinerary with free activities is an easy and fun way to stick to your family travel budget. Walks are always a good go-to for free things to do in any New Zealand destination, and one that was made for kids in Hanmer Springs is the Fairy Door Walk. In the Brook Dawson Reserve of the Hanmer Forest, find the “fairy doors” nailed to trees along this 30-minute track.

Similarly, the Forest Amble Walk along Jollies Pass Road is a 30-minute stroll with wooden sculptures to find, including an orangutan, tuatara, falcon, dog and a giant!

Families with older kids might like the short hike of the Conical Hill Walk to reach the summit of a 550m (1,805ft) hill for amazing views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

For more ideas on free activities, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Hanmer Springs.

More About Hanmer Springs

That’s it from the travel guide to Hanmer Springs for families. Discover even more family trip tips in The Travel Guide to New Zealand for Families.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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