Glamping it up
Over the colder months, many, like Tim Loughnan of Tawanui Farm, have taken the opportunity to update their offerings with exciting new products. In true North Canterbury style, they’ve got on with the job and created truly unique spaces and attractions.
Tim has gained a reputation as the glamping man, following the inception of his Tawanui Farm Glamping. The site gained popularity thanks to its views overlooking the family’s working sheep and beef farm and rustic chic accommodation.
In September he brought in new dome tents to replace two existing lotus belle tents. The domes provide unobscured views over his family’s farm and are able to better withstand the notorious nor wester.
“The dome tents are similar to what we had and keep the special feeling we had created,” says Tim.
Tim’s new jet boat for his Energy Jet venture is also getting its final fit-out, ahead of summer.
Loving life off the grid
Like many, Scotty Bamford had to rethink his tourism operation when COVID closed the borders to international visitors.
Having run farm tours on his family’s Hurunui Hills farm, he used his knowledge of the area and visitor needs to bring about change.
“People were always commenting on how nice it would be to stay here, so the eco-cabin was born,” says Scotty Bamford.
Scotty is now welcoming guests to his Hurunui Hills Eco Farm Stay.
“I just built something I knew I would like to enjoy. It allows people to get off the grid and enjoy our little slice of magic.”
The cabin is located just 1km south of the newly-renovated Hurunui Hotel, one of New Zealand’s oldest pubs. Lovingly restored, the Hurunui Hotel provides a perfect place for a roady pit-stop.
New owners create calm haven
Meanwhile in the village of Hanmer Springs, retailers, hospitality and accommodation providers are gearing up for the warmer months and a bumper holiday season.
Alpine Garden Motel owner Ella Faulkner, who took on the motel in March this year, is now preparing for her first summer as a motelier. Ella and partner Katie spent lockdown bringing new life into the motel units.
“We’ve had an amazing response so far and we can’t wait to welcome even more visitors through – especially after the tough year everyone has had. We like to think we’ve created a calm haven for families or anyone wanting a getaway.”
Ready to recharge?
At the alpine resort of Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa, major works have taken place to get the pools summer-ready.
General manager Graeme Abbot says the ever-popular hexagonal pools and network of rock pools and streams have been upgraded to accommodate the thousands of people who are expected to visit over the coming months.
“Last summer was huge for us as visitors flocked from all over, coming back and enjoying the experience after what was a pretty tumultuous year. Visitors love us because they can relax and forget about everything that might be going on outside of the complex – even if it is just for a day – and that’s what helps us recharge.”
The family day out
Downtime is something not often on the cards for those running the Hanmer Springs Animal Park. Kirsty Innes and her husband, Tim have been working non-stop ever since they relocated the park to a bigger site. The pair are now Mum and Dad to 25 different species of animals and birds and offer a walk-in wallaby enclosure.
“It is really cool that we can share this with so many other families from across New Zealand this summer,” says Kirsty.
Kirsty says they’re located just a five-minute walk from the Tarndale Reserve Fairy walk. They sell snacks and light lunches and also encourage families to simply bring a picnic for a special outing.
Horse treks are back!
Animal lovers will also welcome the return of Hanmer Horse Treks to the village, thanks to new owners Marianne Lloyd and Bruce McKenzie.
Marianne, who has had horses all her life, recently made a move with Bruce and their family to Hanmer Springs from the South Wairarapa. Prior to the couple’s move, they took a holiday to Northland and horse trekked along Ninety Mile Beach. It was to be the inspiration that led the pair to open Hanmer Horse Treks.
“I never dreamed I would be lucky enough to work with horses so I’m very excited to be welcoming people to join me on our own piece of paradise,” says Marianne.
From October 1, riders will be guided along a farm lane, perfect for beginner riders. The block provides 360-degree views of mountains, bush and farmland. More experienced riders will enjoy a climb up the hill block for a different perspective.
It’s one of the many experiences visitors can enjoy in a region bursting with hidden gems and humble tourism operators.