Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa
A visit to Hanmer Springs is incomplete without a visit to Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa. Just 90 minutes from Christchurch, you’ll find yourself in a luxurious other world, soaking in thermal waters over 173 years old.
The pools are popular for a reason: its famed healing waters have been attracting worshippers since 1883. With 22 outdoor thermal pools and four water slides, including New Zealand’s largest aquatic thrill ride, Conical Thrill, there really is something for everyone.
If you’re after relaxation, enjoy a soak in the aqua therapy pools, or lounge about in the ultra-hot sulphur pools. The cascades are the newest addition – a series of cascading pools set among river boulders.
If you want to unwind even further, treat yourself to one of the amazing spa treatments on offer at The Spa, a place dedicated to relaxation and a luxurious oasis from the fast pace of everyday life.
More of an active relaxer? Take a ride on one of the four slides. At 13.5 metres high, Conical Thrill is one of New Zealand’s largest waterslides and a thrill a minute. Ride on a two person tube that snakes, bends and then drops you before you launch back up a near-vertical wall. Keen to give it a go? Visit their website for all the details.
North Canterbury Wine Region
The North Canterbury Wine Region – aka the coolest little wine region in the country is just 40 minutes north of Christchurch and an internationally renowned destination for wine and food.
The region is home to 90 + vineyards, most of them independently owned by a close-knit community of local families.
With some of the country’s most diversified land formations, the region has highly varied and interesting soil types, and the resulting wines are concentrated and expressive. The region is particularly well-known for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling.
With cellar doors and restaurants to explore, including the award winning Black Estate restaurant, grab your friends and make a day (or weekend) of it. Or, take the hassle out of organising and leave the driving to someone else with tours available from Christchurch and Hanmer Springs.
Nestled against the dramatic landscape of the North Canterbury Wine Region is the Iron Ridge Quarry and well worth a visit. Sculptor Raymond Herber purchased the abandoned lime works in 1997 and has transformed it into a magical wonderland, with his graceful, strong sculptures set against a carefully curated native garden.
The Iron Ridge Quarry Sculpture Park is open Sundays 10am – 4pm and other times by appointment.
Mt Lyford & Stella Huts
You’ll find adventure in Mt Lyford all year long, but it ramps up over winter. Two hours north of central Christchurch and only 45 minutes from the tourist town of Hanmer Springs, Mt Lyford is blissfully silent and still.
For accommodation, Mt Lyford Holiday Homes are the perfect winter (or summer) escape. Tucked away along the spectacular Alpine Pacific Touring Route, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d travelled through a portal to Colorado or small-town Switzerland.
Mt Lyford Lodge has accommodation options for everyone, from bunk rooms through to deluxe log cabin rooms. Sit back and relax while taking in the magnificent views of Mt Lyford from their deck.
Home to dozens of charming log chalets, beautifully constructed to blend in with the surrounding native bush, it’s a picturesque part of the country any time of year. Being an alpine settlement, it’s no surprise Mt Lyford village is particularly enchanting in winter. You’ll be heading for the hot tub with a mulled wine in hand as soon as you settle into this white wonderland.
Lake Stella Mountain Huts are another accommodation option, and Mt Lyford's only on mountain accommodation in the heart of Mt Lyford Adventure Park. The ski field is only five minutes’ drive away, and when conditions are right you can enjoy ice skating in the old ski field car park. Snow shoe hire is also available.
Hanmer Springs Walking Trails
The Forest Amble Walk in Hanmer Springs is the perfect short walk for kids, with a range of large wooden art sculptures to find along the way. The Hanmer Heritage Forest is beautiful as it is, but you’ll have no trouble enticing the kids on this walk with a big friendly giant, some enormous mushrooms, a falcon, and a dog to spy along the way.
The track starts at 100 Jollies Pass Road and is about a 30 minute stroll, depending on the pace of your smallest walker.
Keep the excitement going and connect onto the Fairy Doors Walk. Kids will love walking through the forest and finding beautifully painted fairy doors as well as painted rocks and trinkets along the way.
The fairy doors section of the Dog Stream Track starts at Brooke Dawson Park. To find this enchanting trail, drive to the end of Bath Street, head down the hill and park at the reserve.
Once in Brooke Dawson Park, head over the little bridge and head straight ahead into the fairy forest. For these and other walks in Hanmer Springs, visit https://visithanmersprings.co.nz/
Gore Bay and Nape Nape Beach
Cheviot is so much more than a great place to stop on your way to or from Kaikoura. Cheviot and the surrounding beaches are only a 90 minute drive from Christchurch, and with ruggedly beautiful beaches, great places to eat and scenic walking and biking tracks, it’s a great place to explore. Take the scenic route and explore some of the beautiful and remote beaches, and if you’re lucky you’ll spy seals catching some rays.
An easy detour from the main highway between Christchurch and Kaikoura, turn off at Domett and continue onto Nape Nape beach; a popular spot in Pegasus Bay for family picnicking, beach walking, surfcasting, diving, exploring native bush and viewing spectacular limestone bluffs.
Once you’ve explored Nape Nape beach, head back along the same road and follow the signs to Gore Bay. Along the way you’ll encounter the spectacular Cathedral Cliffs, a collection of siltstone pillars with views over Gore Bay.
Gore Bay is a beautiful holiday destination with less than 20 permanent residents. There are no shops, and cell phone reception is limited; the perfect location to get away from it all. Find out more on our website or https://www.cheviotnz.com/.