The Hurunui district is approximately an hour north of Christchurch on the south island. Comprising of several towns the crowning glory, and best reason to visit the region, is the alpine thermal spa town – Hanmer Springs.
By far the best time to visit Hanmer is in the winter, when the mountains that surround the town are snow capped and you can view them from the comfort of a 40 degree hot spring. While the thermal pools are a bit of a tourist trap, at $24 dollars for a day pass, it is definitely something you must tick off the list. And while you will be certain of having other people around, there are enough hot pools for you not to be bothered by them too much.
A couple of tips from my trip I could pass on; Firstly, is to make you you take a pair of jandals, or as we Australians call them – thongs. In winter you might not think you need them but after you spend a couple of minutes standing on freezing cold pavers as you work your way around the park. My second tip is to use the change rooms at the front of the park, they are newer and feature heated floors!
With the thermal pools done, there are many other activities on offer in Hanmer Springs. From mountain biking, trekking, rafting, fishing as well as adventure sports such as bungee & speedboating.
I can highly recommend the one hour return walk up Connical Hill, which gives you some amazing views over Hanmer township and surrounding area.
There are a couple of pubs in town and a few restaurants, but really its all about those hot springs.