The Guide to Hanmer Springs on a Budget© Unsplash
The Guide to Hanmer Springs on a Budget

The Travel Guide to Hanmer Springs on a Budget

© Unsplash
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Article Single Pages©
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How to Visit Hanmer Springs on a Budget

An alpine spa resort town nestled in the Canterbury mountains, Hanmer Springs is a popular destination for locals and international travellers alike. The main drawcard is its thermal spa complex and array of jet boating, rafting, quad biking and mountain biking adventures, but what are the options for those on a budget? In this travel guide to Hanmer Springs on a budget, we go over our budget tips, as well as the free and cheap attractions, including some free hot pools! You’ll also find a cheap place to stay thanks to our budget accommodation listings.

Budget Tips for Hanmer Springs

  • Plan your visit for the low season (May to September) to find cheaper accommodation and activity rates
  • Stay in Hanmer Spring’s budget accommodation to save money on accommodation – the cheapest rates can be found in the hostels
  • Stay in self-catering accommodation to make your own meals and save money on food – there’s a Four Square supermarket in town but you will find cheaper supermarkets on the way to Hanmer Springs , such as in Christchurch
  • Hanmer Springs is a town you can enjoy without a vehicle, as key attractions are in town, while tour operators offer shuttles to out-of-town attractions
  • Take the Hanmer Connection bus to get to Hanmer Springs from Christchurch for an affordable price – check it out on Viator or Tripadvisor
  • Fill your itinerary with the free and cheap things to do in Hanmer Springs.

For more generic budget tips, take a look at the 11 Ways to Save Money When Backpacking in New Zealand.

The Guide to Hanmer Springs on a Budget© Unsplash

Free Activities in Hanmer Springs

As long as you have an explorer spirit, you’ll find that you’ll have plenty of fun thing to do in Hanmer Springs without spending a dime! Of course, walks are a great place to start, the most popular being the Conical Hill Walk. This 30-minute town-accessible walk zigzags through pine forest to a stunning viewpoint overlooking the Hanmer Basin.

More walks in Hanmer Springs worth checking out include those in the Hanmer Forest. A short walk suitable for all ages and fitness levels is the Forest Amble Walk just outside of the town along Jollies Pass Road, featuring an array of wooden sculptures scattered in the forest. 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).

If you don’t want to spend the NZ$35+ fee to use the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa, then you do have a free option. It just takes a 16km (10-mile) walk or cycle journey to get there. Cow Stream Hot Pools are hidden 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.

For more free activities, like art galleries, fudge tastings and more, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Hanmer Springs.

The Guide to Hanmer Springs on a Budget© Pixabay

Cheap Activities in Hanmer Springs

Despite being a resort town, Hanmer Springs does offer a couple of more 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, meet 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 and playgrounds is a fantastic activity for families and animal-lovers alike.

Mini golf is also an affordable activity in Hanmer Springs, costing you less than NZ$15 per adult. What’s more, you have two options to choose from, either the picturesque Alpine Crazy Putt or the gold rush-themed A-Maze-N-Golf. The latter also has a family-friendly maze puzzle activity where you must solve puzzles to escape “The Lost Temple”. This is also less than NZ$15.

Need more cheap stuff to do? Check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Hanmer Springs.

The Guide to Hanmer Springs on a Budget©

Cheap Eats in Hanmer Springs

Everyone’s got to eat! If you prefer to try the local eats than making your own meals, then head out to some of our recommended restaurants, cafes and takeaways for the best deals.

Time your night well for dining at Saints (6 Jacks Pass Road), a laidback bar and restaurants with a different deal for each day of the week. For instance, pop in for two-for-one pizzas on Tuesday, two-for-one stonegrill on Wednesday, $20 ribs night on Thursday and more.

For the Hanmer version of street eats, head to Pj’s Chalet (2 Conical Hill Road) serving their famous gourmet burgers, as well as fish and chips, homemade savoury pies and ice cream. Or for Mediterranean delights, head to Petrah Souvlaki (16 Conical Hill) offering excellent value with their souvlakis, wraps, kebabs, salads, paclava and more.

Finally, treat yourself to an Italian-style gelato at Si Gelato (16 Conical Hill Road). 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.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

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