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.

Travel tips

Amuri Avenue is lined with oak trees. It’s a popular picnic spot for RVs with plenty of parking a stone’s throw to the thermal springs. Conical Hill Walk provides 360-degree views over the town and surrounds. Clarence Valley Road leads to popular Lake Tennyson and the St James Conservation Area. Hire an EcoGo electric bike, Village Cruiser, or picturesque horse-drawn wagon. Hanmer Forest Park: wander the restful track through the Dog Stream Reserve beneath alder, sycamore, and willow trees. Waiariki Nature Park is home to deer, goats, llamas, emus, yaks, and more usual farmyard delights like pigs and ducks. Queen Mary Hospital: walking tours are available on Sundays at 12-noon by gold coin donation. A tip for internet users: The Good Read second-hand bookshop off Amuri Ave is a good bet for internet access.

Places to eat and drink

Hanmer has numerous great places to dine, including The Pickled Pig, Monteith’s Brewery, and the full to bursting Hanmer Springs Bakery. The Powerhouse Café and Restaurant located at the historic power station. Jollie Jacks On Conical Hill Road, this is a welcoming family restaurant. Malabar Asian-inspired cuisine using the freshest local ingredients. Chantellinis is an award-winning restaurant and bar. Roadtrip _article _tile
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