With their beautiful alpine setting, the outdoor hot pools at Hanmer Springs are a glorious place to rest and soothe aching limbs. Open throughout the year, the mineral waters range in temperature from 70-100ºF. Visitors can choose between large pools in a landscaped setting or small private pools with their own shower and change facilities. Conveniently located within the thermal reserve is a restaurant serving snacks and light meals.
Several walks go through the surrounding forest which comprises both native and exotic trees. Particularly worthwhile is the Mt Isobel Track (5 hours) as it goes through an area with interesting sub-alpine flora. Another good walk, the Forest Walk (1 hour), leads through stands of conifers and deciduous trees; it would be particularly attractive in autumn.
Other outdoor activities around Hanmer Springs include horse treks, golf, bungy-jumping, jet-boating and skiing at the nearby Amuri ski field. A bit further afield there is good walking through alpine scenery at the top of Lewis Pass (contact Information Centre at Hanmer Springs for track information), while the hot pools at nearby Maruia Springs provide a place to relax afterwards.
For those who want to return north the road through the remote tussocklands of Molesworth Station provides a spectacular alternative to the coastal route. This private road is only open to the public between January 1 and February 13 and links Hanmer Springs to Blenheim. With a spread of 444,798 acres
(180,000 hectares), Molesworth is New Zealand’s largest high country cattle station. The scenery is quite magnificent and well worth the small fee payable for using the road. Those who do not want to take their own vehicles along this unsurfaced road can join one of the safari tours starting from either Hanmer Springs or Blenheim.
Visitors who have continued south to Christchurch can still join Route 10 on the West Coast by crossing the Southern Alps via Arthur’s Pass to Greymouth or Hokitika. From Christchurch the start of Route 11 at Wanaka is joined by following state highways 72, 79 and 8 south via Mount Hutt, Tekapo and Omarama.