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13 Amazing things to do in Hanmer Springs, Canterbury

Hanmer springs

Hanmer Springs is a stunning resort town located 2 hours drive from Christchurch in the Canterbury region of New Zealand. It reminds me of the Canadian Rockies with mountain peaks and pine forests all around the town. It has a real alpine village feel and is a peaceful place worth a visit during any season! There is so much to see and do you will be spoilt for choice.  This article is dedicated to helping you discover some of the best things to do in Hanmer Springs. Let’s dive in! 

Where is Hanmer Springs?

Located in the Canterbury region just off state highway 7- inland from Christchurch. Access to the stunning town is down Highway 7A.  Hanmer Springs to Christchurch takes around 90 minutes and Nelson to Hanmer Springs takes around 4 hours. 

Photo credit: Nick Sarvari on Unsplash

How to get to Hanmer Springs

Like most places in New Zealand accessing Hanmer Springs is best done by self-driving. The closest place to rent a car is from Christchurch. However, you can also access Hanmer Springs via bus through InterCity or a tour bus group such as Contiki

Where to stay in Hanmer Springs? 

If you’re planning a trip to Hanmer Springs it’s likely you are heading here for more than a day so accommodation is necessary! And the good thing is you will be spoilt for choice on deciding which Hanmer Springs accommodation to choose. There are lots of options in the town centre itself and with most kiwi holiday towns you can find great deals on Bachcare. However, my favourite Hanmer accommodation option is Airbnb. Sign up here to get a free $69 Airbnb credit towards your first trip

Other than the above-mentioned options you might find some of the places below a good fit for your holiday! I have outlined different accommodation options from backpackers, camping, motels to hotels and luxury. Hopefully this helps you in planning your adventure! 

(P.s there are quite a few camping options in Hanmer Springs and if you are looking to hire a cheap campervan check out my article on finding a cheap campervan hire in NZ). 

Check out below for a few options!

Hanmer Springs Camping – The Hanmer Springs Forest camp is probably the most well-known option sitting almost inside the forest park! It is a great location for exploring the area. They have options for camping, bunk rooms, lounge rooms and a lodge. 

Another Hanmer Springs camping ground that I recommend is the Top 10-holiday park. It is located just a 5 minutes walk from the thermal pools (one of the most popular Hanmer Springs attractions). They have the option of camping, motels, units and cabins. 

Hanmer Springs Backpackers- Kakapo Lodge is a YHA hostel and one of my favourite affordable backpacker options just a 2-minute walk from the thermal pools! The rooms are spacious and comfy and have everything you need. I love the colour aesthetic and the reception staff were very friendly. 

Motels Hanmer Springs – Alpine Garden motel is another central accommodation option worth checking out. It is a 4 star motel with 9 rooms and everything you need. 

Hanmer Hotels – Drifters Inn is a comfy 3-star guest house located just 2 minutes walk from the thermal pools! It is such a central location and a clean and tidy accommodation option. 

Hanmer Springs Luxury Accommodation – There are quite a few luxury options to choose from! But probably the best option is St James Premium Accommodation. It is a 5-star accommodation option that has won the best motel category in the hospitality NZ awards for 2018 and 2019, so it is definitely worth checking out! 

Okay, now we have a bit of the admin out of the way. Let’s delve into some of the best things to do in Hanmer Springs! 

Photo credit: Casey Horner on Unsplash

In no particular order… 

1. Visit the Thermal Hot Pools 

This is probably one of the most popular things to do in Hanmer Springs. With a variety of pools to choose from, ranging in temperature and atmosphere you are sure to find something you like. Just beware of silver jewellery heading into the sulphur pools! 

The great news is the pools aren’t just a hit in winter, they are great in Summer with sunshades to keep you protected and cooler bathing options. They have a cold pool as well as hydroslides! They recently opened a couple of intense slides called Superbowl and Conical Thrill. They are a lot of fun just make sure you grab the correct floatation device as I made the mistake of grabbing one without a bottom, safe to say I had a sore one after!! 

The cost for the pools is $35 per adult for single entry but this includes access to the entire park with all of the soaking options. They also have family pass options. Check out their website here for more details. 

If you want access to the Sauna that is $45 for 30 minutes. Below I delve into a great option to pair with your hot pool experience! 

Photo credit: David Lezcano Unsplash

2. The Spa at Hanmer Springs 

Quite possibly home to the best Hanmer Springs massage! There’s nothing quite like a massage, a facial or a relaxation treatment. They are all available at the Spa next door to the hot pools! They also conveniently have their own pool entrance. 

It really is a luxury place. Upon entering you are greeted by the friendly staff and from there given a white robe and some slippers. You change in the heated changing room and put your things in a locker. Then you take a rest in their relaxing and ambient waiting room where you have access to delicious teas and waters. 

From there you are greeted again by the lovely staff and taken down to your room or sauna- whatever it may be. I tried the sauna and it was a cosy little wooden place with eucalyptus water. Then I was taken to a room for a massage and a facial. It was an absolutely blissful experience. I felt like a pampered Queen! 

They have a range of services on offer. We got the Revitaliser Package with the sauna, neck shoulder and back massage AND a facial plus access to the hot pools for $165!

For more details check out their website here. 

the spa one of the best things to do in hanmer springs

3. Biking around Hanmer Forest

Hanmer Springs is well known for its forest and mountain biking tracks. Biking in the forest is one of the most popular Hanmer Springs activities and they have options for any fitness level! You could spend all day exploring the tracks!  I loved the easy ride between numerous pine trees and loved stopping at a clearing to enjoy the surrounding mountain view. 

If you are a keen mountain biker check out visit Hurunui for details of the biking map.  

If you have your own bike all you need to do is carry a map! Use the copy of mine below or check out Hanmer trails which has an interactive map showing some of the routes. 

If like me, you are after a bike hire I suggest contacting or walking into Hanmer Adventure. They have a range of services including guided tours however we hired a bike for 1 or 2 hours and it was around $35. Whatever you are after I am sure they can sort you out! 

a photo of the biking options which is one of the best things to do in hanmer springs

4. A massage at Vibrant Living 

Perhaps you want to try a unique holistic experience while exploring Hanmer Springs! The massage at Vibrant Living was one of my favourite things to do in Hanmer Springs. I loved the vibe and atmosphere. 

The centre is a short drive out of the town but you won’t be disappointed. I went there to get a 1 hour relaxation massage and it was the perfect experience. I liked the setting of the centre, the people were extremely lovely and the entire place was calming and relaxing. Plus nothing beats a massage with essential oils! 

They offer a range of services including beauty, pampering, healing, spa and hypnosis. Check out their website here for more details. 

vibrant living retreat is one of the best things to do in hanmer springs

5. Golf at Hanmer Pitch N Putt

Photo thanks to Hanmer Pitch N Putt.

Fancy playing golf on an internationally recognised Pitch N Putt course? This is the place to be! It’s perfect for all skill levels and is a lot of fun. The owners are really lovely and they have a massive Kimba cat that has become a bit of an attraction! 

Photo thanks to Hanmer Pitch N Putt.

The Pitch N Putt course is 18 holes and can be completed in around 2 hours. However, you do not have to do the entire thing. My advice is to take some drinks. They have chilly bins and roller trolley options for that too. 

Price- $18 for adults. They have family and student packages too. They also have a $45 pools package which gives you access to Pitch N Putt and the hot pools, so you save $8! 

Location- 88 Argelins Road, Hanmer Springs just an 8-minute walk from the town centre. Check out their website here for more details! 

a photo of mini golf one of my favourite things to do in hanmer springs just 8 minutes from the town centre

6. Walk to Conical Hill

If you are looking for what to do in Hanmer Springs look no further. This is one of the most popular walks in Hanmer Springs located walking distance from the town centre! It is an easily accessible short walk through a pine forest to a clearing with 360 panoramic views of the Hanmer Springs area. 

I thought I had climbed up so high and then I saw Mt Isobel (one of the more intense Hanmer Springs Walks) and the surrounding mountains in the background! But it’s still a mean feat when you look down on where you came from. 

The walk up Conical hill takes around 1-hour return and is well marked plus it’s family-friendly. You can access the hill from various spots in the forest but it is most common to walk from the town centre. 

Check out Hanmer trails for an interactive map. 

a view from conical hill which is one of the most popular things to do in hanmer springs

7. Saturday Market 

Keen for some local produce and crafts? The market is located in the town centre each Sunday in the Summer running through to Anzac weekend (open 9 am – 12:30 pm). The market has a range of food and crafts to buy such as honey, olive oils, bread, fresh produce, meats, woodwork and jewellery. If you just so happen to be here on a Saturday in Summer you will likely want to check it out! 

a photo of saturday market in hanmer springs

8. Have a bite to eat at Monteiths 

Monteiths Hanmer is a popular choice for a bite to eat or drink. There are lots of eatery options in Hanmer Springs but my favourite is Monteiths. They have good beer, good vibes and their breakfasts are amazing! It is quite a bustling place so if you are keen on a beer or two and delicious food I highly recommend checking them out. 

Also check out O’Flynns Irish Pub next door for more great beer and good vibes! 

monteiths bar is one of my favourite places to grab a bite to eat in Hanmer Springs

9. Bungy Jump with Hanmer Springs Attractions 

A real adventure experience you will know about when driving through to Hanmer. You can’t miss the 135-year-old historic Ferry Bridge that is used to jump off! You literally have to cross it to get into Hanmer! Why not jump off it? It looks extremely scary but incredibly beautiful at the same time looking out to the turquoise blue Waiau River and surrounding mountains. I haven’t done this yet, but it’s on my list!  

Prices cost- $169 adult. Tandem is $338

Check them out here and make a booking! 

10. Jet Boating with Hanmer Springs Attractions 

Run by the same company in the same location as the Bungy jump! You are in for an epic adventure treat if you do the two! Hanmer Springs Jet Boat looks like a thrill-seeking adventure. The tour takes you down the Waiau River and narrow gorge over white water rapids and braided shallows. I’ve never been on a jet boat adventure but it is on my list!!! 

Prices are $79 for an adult at the moment! They also have family deals. 

Check out the details on Hanmer Springs Attractions website here. 

a view of the bridge that is used for bungy jumping one of the scariest things to do in hanmer springs

11. Skiing!

Yup, Hanmer Springs has a ski field! It is definitely more of a club field and is not a well-known place but it is great for skiers of all levels! It is run by the Amuri Ski Club and looks like a cosy place to enjoy a day on the slopes. 

Access to the field is 17km from Hanmer. There is a transport service run by Hanmer Springs Adventure Centre. But if you are self-driving you will want to avoid google maps! It takes you the wrong way! 

Be sure to check out their website here and read the contact section for information on how to access the field. 

Price- Adult $60 and they have student and family deals. 

12. Secret Hot Pools

Okay, not that secret but still they are pretty remote! These little beauties are called Cow Spring Hot Stream. They are natural hot pools located north of Hanmer forest park with 4WD access only. They are not something you will just stumble across you will need to know where you are going! 


From Hanmer, drive over Jacks Pass, turn left to St James Homestead, walk down Peters Valley and over Peters Pass to the Edwards River. Cow Stream is on the left, the hot pool is located at the foot of the hill.

Check out NZ hot pools here for a map. Enjoy one of the most remote natural hot springs in NZ! 

a photo of the secret hot pools one of the best things to do in hanmer springs

13. Walk up Mount Isobel

Another popular walk in Hanmer springs but this one takes a bit longer! Taking around 5.5-6.5 hours return. It is a massive climb (Mt Isobel sits at 1,324m) but worth the effort for the incredible views at the top looking down on Hanmer Basin, Waiau Plain, Organ and Hanmer ranges. 

There are different ways to access Mt Isobel but the most popular way to access the walk is beginning at Clarence Valley Road car park. 

Learn more about the walk and Hanmer Springs walking options at the DOC website here. 

a photo from the top of Mt Isobel

Hopefully, this article has given you a few ideas on what to do in Hanmer Springs! I’m looking forward to trying the Hanmer Springs Jet Boat adventure! What about you? 

Loved this article on the best things to do in Hanmer Springs? Pin the images below for later! 

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Other articles you might like:

The ultimate guide to the West Coast 

The best road trip and travel guide! 

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