An idyllic spot perfect for a weekend getaway of not much more than rest and relaxation. The easiest way to get there is to fly into Christchurch airport and either catch a shuttle or drive; it takes a bit more than hour, probably closer to an hour and a half. The town is only small, it’s definitely entirely walkable. When we were there it was pretty darn crisp outside so I was actually excited to have a car that we could jump into for warmth after being outside. Hanmer is very picturesque and relatively compact. A main street (identifiable by the hot springs at one end and a mini hill to climb at the other) containing everything from restaurants and cafes to mini golf and an information site and a few other streets veering off it, surrounded by lots of lush greenery – that is basically it.
The hot springs are an absolute must-do when in Hanmer. For $24, it is an afternoon well spent. There are numerous pools, all of various temperatures so that everyone can find something that suits them. If you are feeling a little more adventurous, there are hydro-slides and a Super Bowl attract for an extra $10. Cafes, bathroom and storage facilities are all available onsite, as well as spa treatments if you are feeling a little bit glam.
There are lots of short (and long) walks you can do around Hanmer, one of which includes climbing Conical Hill. The wee hill at the end of the main street takes about an hour to do a return trip and gives some pretty scenic views over the valley. There are also loads of mountain bike trails about for the more active.
Within the village there are a number of boutique stores, a lolly shop, mini golf and of course, restaurants and cafes aplenty. During our time there we ate at the following:
- The Powerhouse Cafe (8 Jacks Pass Road)
Very popular and an absolutely delicious reading menu. I was torn between wanting to order so many different things. Finally I decided to get some health into me, and I really wish I hadn’t because the smoothie bowl was SO incredibly disappointing. In fact, it was inedible. I am not sure what they used, but my guess is that there was an overdose of some kind of powder/concentrate and it left a bitter, chalkiness in my mouth. I hope that was an outlier, as Andy’s eggs were good and everyone else seemed to be finishing their meals. We didn’t go back to test it though.
- The Roasted Bean (47 Amuri Ave)
This pizza place came to us recommended and we thought that we would give it a go. The pizza was yum – there were a range of flavours from the classics to a few more innovative options. A good selection of drinks, particularly wine was also available. Although the food and drink hit the mark, we both agreed that there was some room for improvement; the atmosphere was a little sterile despite having immense potential to be a cosy and intimate spot.
- Rustic Cafe & Tapas Bar (8 Conical Hill Road)
Last but not least, we visited the Rustic Cafe & Tapas bar for brunch and it certainly impressed us. We shared the breakfast platter which literally gave us a taste of everything from bacon and eggs to waffles, pancakes and fresh fruit. There was so much food, and all of it was really tasty. Again, the place could have been a tad more cosy – it was pretty big and with the sheer amount of concrete present I believe they should have had their heaters blasting, as I was pretty cold but overall I would definitely recommend.
All in all, a fantastic destination for a weekend away. We stayed at an Air BnB but there is an absolute abundance of accommodation options to choose from.