Hanmer – Shut your eyes. Imagine lazing in a steamy thermal hot pool. The sun is setting over the picture postcard snow-capped mountains. Not a sound can be heard but the occasional bellbird call. This is Hanmer Springs’ thermal pools. One of the best short holiday bases in New Zealand and the place to go to recharge the batteries any time of the year.
Hanmer is an oasis and is home of the award-winning natural spring hot pools; just a bit north of the fastest growing New Zealand wine region of Waipara, and a bit inland from the world famous whale watching area of Kaikoura.
The whales, wine and romantic hot pools make up the Alpine Pacific Triangle – just north of Christchurch international airport, gateway to the South Island.
New Zealand is famous for its bays, beaches, brilliant snow slopes and beautiful scenery. But this tiny thermal pools holiday resort 90 minutes north of Christchurch International Airport, is a slice of NZ paradise that is fast becoming a hugely popular tourist area. More than half a million people a year enjoy the pools.
I am in heaven in Hanmer; dreaming idly, pondering life with all thoughts of work and business washed away. Ice or snow or both often lie on the ground and the resort is tailor-made for romantic couples.
My partner and I head to the Monteith’s restaurant and bar which is perfect for a cool and casual drink after a long pool visit. We head home to warm up in front of a roaring fire. Next morning we enjoy breakfast at the Powerhouse Café. The Powerhouse is just over the road from the old Queen Mary Hospital, which used to be a retreat for recovering alcoholics. As a fitting tribute to substance addicts the Powerhouse Cafe does not serve alcohol.
We next set off on bikes around the town to explore; then have a game of squash at the camping ground before a walk to the summit of famous fir-clad Conical Hill for a breath-taking view over-looking the town.
Leafy Hanmer – hot in summer and snowy in winter – is a resort for families, for couples, romantic weekends and a place to slow down and unwind. For the more energetic, try bungy jumping, mountain-biking, jet boating, horse trekking, skiing, snowboarding, quad biking through forests, rafting, golf and fishing. Mini-golf was as adventurous as we got.
As the sun sets we make a bee-line for the thermal hot pools to soak our aches and pains. We plan the future in a quiet hot pool as the more energetic fly down the new fun hydro slides. The pools have been used for more than 150 years but they have been revamped and upgraded in recent years. They are easily among the very best in New Zealand. A divine curry and great service at Corianders restaurant is a fitting end to a lovely short holiday.`