Hanmer Springs travel tips
Say ‘Hanmer Springs’ and the immediate thought is ‘up to your neck in hot water’. True, this mountain-girt alpine village of fewer than 1000 residents is renowned for its thermal pools, but there's more to it than a bit of splish splash. The keen and the brave can get their adrenalin fix any number of ways: hop on horses, helicopters, jet boats, or mountain bikes; go rafting, golfing and bungy jumping; or pit their wits against a trout. Built near the thermal springs in 1916 to rehabilitate shell-shocked soldiers during the First World War, the quirky octagonal Soldiers' Block was followed 10 years later by the handsome Chisholm Ward, constructed in the wide-verandahed Arts and Craft Movement style for “fragile females with nervous disorders”, and a more functional if less attractive men's block, the Rutherford Ward. In the 1960s and 70s, the hospital evolved into a (now-closed) treatment centre for drug and alcohol addiction. A peek into the Chisholm Ward's clean but cell-sized single rooms made me glad I was on the outside, strolling the gardens on such a bright blue north Canterbury day.