A guide on the best things to do in Hanmer Springs New Zealand
Welcome to my guide with the best things to do in Hanmer Springs as well as Hanmer Springs accommodation. I visited this pleasant and low-key spot a couple of times during my New Zealand trips and just love it there. So in this blog I’m sharing my experiences with you. During my last trip I’d been in New Zealand for almost a month when arriving. Having done the famous Tongariro Crossing hike as well as the strenuous Angelus Hut hike, I figured I’d need some time off hiking to let my ankle recover from a small injury earlier on during my trip.
I’d been to Hanmer Springs before in 2011 and it seemed like a nice stop on my way further down. And I was looking forward to a soak in the Hanmer Springs pools. I booked myself some nice Hanmer Springs accommodation and enjoyed a few nice and relaxing days in this beautiful alpine town. In this blog I’ll give you all my suggestions for the best things to do in Hanmer Springs New Zealand.
The Hanmer Springs pools
Hanmer Springs New Zealand is known for the Hanmer Springs hot pools. They are definitely some of the nicest hot pools in New Zealand if you ask me. Maori legend has it that the Hanmer Springs pools are the result of embers from Mount Ngauruhoe in the North Island falling from the sky. The complex has a wide variety of large pools of various temperatures and some adult-only rock pools as well for your convenience. There’s also a 25m swimming pool and you can rental private pools at and additional fee, as well as a cafe.
I went to the hot springs in the evening. It was not too busy given the fact that it was in the middle of January. The adult entrance fee currently is NZD 25 for adults and NZD 12 for children. Prices for add-ons can be found on the Hanmer Springs pools website. If you’re looking for a great Hanmer Springs deal for the entrance fee or additional packages, check out Bookme.co.nz as – I booked my entrance fee with them and got a small discount.
The best Hanmer Springs walks
Hanmer Springs is located right in the mountains and there are plenty of nice walks that can be done here. Most Hanmer Springs walks are located in the nearby Hanmer Forest Park. Hiking maps can be bought at the local I-Site for a small fee. The most famous one of the Hanmer Springs walks is probably the Conical Hill walk. From the top of the mountain you have an amazing view over the town and its surroundings. It’s about a 1 to 1.5 hour return walk from the trailhead right outside the center of town. A steep zig zag leads you up to 550 meter high Conical Hill. On top you will find a resting shelter and amazing views of the Hanmer Springs Basin.
The Waterfall Track leaves a bit further out of town, from the parking lot at the end of the unsealed Mullens Rd. This 2.5 hour return walk takes you through the fern and moss covered Hanmer Forest up to 41 meter high Dog Stream Waterfall. It’s all uphill to the waterfall so for this hike I recommend wearing sturdy footwear. There are various approaches for this hike, check out the map and current trail conditions for the best options. I planned on hiking further up to Mount Isobel from here but the track was severely damaged and since I was by my own, I decided not to continue.
Thrill seekers can enjoy their adrenaline shot at Thrill Seekers Adventures. You will find them right when you drive into town. Their options include bungy jumping, jet boating and kayaking. In all honesty it looked super quiet when I drove past even though I was traveling in high season. So I’d recommend doing your thrilling adventures maybe in Queenstown or Taupo instead. To me, Hanmer Springs was more about relaxing and walking.
Hanmer Springs accommodation
Hanmer Springs is a popular tourist destination and a fun weekend getaway for Christchurch locals as well. It can there for be a bit tricky to find accommodation in high season. I booked just one day ahead and ended up staying at a really cosy hostel called Hanmer Backpackers. This is not a place for party people, yet those who are seeking for a bit of peace and quiet but not too far away from town will love it. There’s a large outdoor space with seating areas, a communal kitchen and 500MB free wifi included. Additional wifi can be bought or (my tip) go to the public library for unlimited and fast free wifi. The Hanmer Backpackers has private rooms and shared rooms.
If you are camping then the Hanmer Top 10 is your best bet. Do book ahead though if you are traveling in high season as it was fully booked when I was around. All other Hanmer Springs accommodation can be found here.
Where to eat in Hanmer Springs
I had a fully equipped kitchen at my hostel and was on a bit of a budget. There for I cooked my own food most of the time. There’s a small super market in the town center yet it’s all quite expensive. If you come traveling from Christchurch or in my case Nelson, it’s wise to stock up on some food right there. When I decided to not cook myself, I grabbed a quick bit to eat from any of the food stalls on the main road. Another day I had a salmon bagel from the insanely popular Hanmer Springs Bakery. It can be pretty busy here and queues are not uncommon, just something to consider.
How to get to Hanmer Springs
If you are coming from the north then you will really enjoy the drive along Lewis Pass. I drove to Hanmer Springs from Nelson Lakes National Park which was about a 4 hour drive. The South Island’s main city Christchurch is ust 1.5 hours away from Hanmer Springs.
I hope you find my guide on the best things to do in Hanmer Springs New Zealand useful. If you come across this town and are in need of a few days off, then this is a great place to unwind for a little while. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop them in the comments below!
Want to read more? You may also enjoy the following posts about New Zealand:
– The best outdoor things to do in Taupo
– Is Cape Reinga worth the drive?
– Visiting the Waitakere Ranges and Piha Beach from Auckland
New here and curious who We12travel is? Go here to learn more! For a daily dose of outdoor & adventure inspiration, follow We12travel on Instagram and Facebook!
Thanks for sharing!
[This blog contains affiliate links. In case you decide to buy and/or book something through these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you]