Hanmer has a wealth of tracks to go for a walk and enjoy the local flora & fauna. Most are located on the north side of Hanmer with some steep paths up Conical Hill. You can purchase a map of the local tracks from the information centre located beside the Hot Pools so you'll be sure to know where to go (and hopefully where you are when you get there.
You can get some well earned (if you've had an active holiday!) pampering at the Hanmer Spa. It's in the same complex as the Hot Pools and is accessed through a separate entrance to the left of the Hot Pools.
The Spa has plenty of treatments for tired and weary bodies and skin with prices about average - so Angie tells me! If you get on their mailing list you'll get access to their specials like half price everything as we got on our last trip - very welcome rub down after the half marathon!
The Spa also has a fully stocked shop if you want to buy the same stuff that the team used on you during your visit.
Queen Mary started life as a recovery place for invalids back in the late 1890's. People went there to 'take the waters' of Hanmer springs found a few years earlier. The hospital went through several iterations as a place for recovery before it became the main place for the treatment of alcoholics in the 1940's. This was extended to include drug, children and Moari specific programmes until the unit was closed in 2003 by the local health board. In 2008 the Hurunui District Council and New Zealand Government reached an agreement for Queen Mary Hospital to move into public ownership.
These days you can walk the grounds and have a look at the old buildings. Daily tours go at noon if you want a guided walk with the history of each building and the hospital in general. The tours start at the entrace to the left of the Hot Pools and is free - though a gold coin donation is appreciated.
From Hanmer Springs we headed to Kaikoura taking the inland scenic route. It took us past the entrance to the ski village of Mount Lyford and through Waiau. The scenery once again is fantastic, so if you have to choose a route, don't be afraid of choosing this one!
Make sure you have enough fuel, as there isn't much in the way of "life" of this road, either in Towns and shops, to Petrol stations and cars!
We came across these beautiful springs in Lewis Pass, and decided to stay the night here in our camper van!
The Hot Springs are totally natural but colour, temperature and flow rate can vary from day to day, and is dependant on the weather patterns and variation is especially noticable after heavy rain, snow or drought.
Set beside the Maruia River, the hot pools come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and temperatures, but each is a perfectly formed tarn, built from smoothest rocks, tumbled and gathered from the river. This is what I liked, it looked natural, no concrete pool here, and here I was, sitting in there with the steam rising, and the frosty grass and snow topped Mountains surrounding me, absolute Bliss! It was wonderful!
Such a pretty setting, and it was so relaxing, I didn't want to leave. Some of the pools were too hot for me, but there were plenty of others that I tried.
Due to its high mineral content, the thermal water has healing properties, and it’s thought to be particularly beneficial for detoxifying and softening the skin. MMM! Don't know if that worked!
The hot spring water of today fell as rain more than 100 years ago. It seeped down through deep fissures in the mountains and remained in underground reservoirs before it was heated and pushed back up to the surface through the vents at Maruia Springs.
Located next to the hot pools is a Utase-yu, a traditional Japanese method to enjoy hot springs. Basically a ‘waterfall’ of hot spring water it’s easy to use: just sit under the flow and move your body for a massaging effect. It’s advised to soak in a hot pool for three to five minutes first.
This was recommended to us by a New Zealander, and we were not disappointed!
There is accommodation available.
PRICES IN 2010 FOR THERMAL POOLS......
Adult $18 per person
Child $8 (12 years and under)
Family $45 (2 adults and 3 children)
Private Spa and Pools $25 per person for 45min
Towel Hire $5 and $5 deposit
This is one of three quad biking trips available in Hanmer Springs, we did this trip as our motel recommended it for its amazing scenery and fun riding for any levels, which fitted what we were looking for.
We got picked up from the information centre in the village, taken to get geared up then driven out to the course. Our guide was very friendly and informative on the drive. After a briefing on using the bike and how to ride we left in convoy. The tracks started of wide and easy and got a bit more technical as we went along. The scenery blew us away, these amazing cliffs and this amazing hill climb into this another planet like environement. We also had a drink of milo and a sandwich on this view point that looked down the valley, it was amazing with the mountains in the background.
The return trip was faster as we could now ride better, and this was fun, even a chance to get splashed on some of the more shallow water crossings. We had great weather for our trip which always helps, but i think the views would be amazing any weather. I hear it looks stunning in the snow.
Thankyou to the backtrax guys for showing us a great couple of hours, only trouble is we both want a quad bike now.
i -SITE visitor centre should be your first stop in Hanmer Springs if you are a first time visitor. i-SITE is New Zealand's official network of visitor centres and can provide you with great advice on local attractions that will help make your visit to the area a visit to remember. Here you can book accomadation, tours and transport. Depending on the individual who helps you, they can sometimes give great inside tips on things to do and what not to do. I found that even if i have researched a destination before i got there, I learn a great deal more that i couldnt find on the internet or in the guides books when visiting the local i-SITE centre.
For a list of i-SITE centres throughout New Zealand, visit the following link to their offical website i-SITE
Lewis River runs through the Lewis Pass National Reserve and feeds into the Waiau River. It is most commonly visited for its natural hot springs, the Sylvia Flats. 3 natural hot springs located just of the banks of the river. Definitly a off the beaten path location.
For access to the river coming from Hamner Springs, simply take the first left after you enter Lewis Pass National Reserve down into the rest area. Here you can get some great shots of the river and some great shots of the rest area outhouse.
Hanmer Springs Thermal Reserve is the wrong reason to visit Hanmer Springs, but there are so many reasons that are right.
I admit it was pretty bad ass at first to be chillin in the natural hot springs. But soon realized that it was the beauty of the surroundings that made the experience specail. In the end i wouldnt have noticed a difference if i was was in a hot spring or a hot tub. OK, hot tubs dont smell like fart, so maybe i would notice that difference.
Conclusion, the thermal reserve was not our highlight of Hanmer Springs, Hamner Springs in itself is a beautiful place and that is enough reason to make the trip.
You couldnt ask for a grander entrance into Hanmer Springs. The Waiau Ferry bridge spands 32 meters over the Waiau Gorge and i could swear that while we drove across it for the first time, i heard it scream "Welcome to Hanmer Springs!"