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Weekend at Hanmer

Hanmer Springs has been a favourite get away place for my family since moving to New Zealand. In fact every time we have friends from Aussie visit us we make sure we bring them to this super relaxed village, and all have loved it. This time we got out and explored a little more than usual - our family weekend getaway to Hanmer Springs.

We drove down the Kaikoura Coast SH1- the first time for myself and the kids since the November 2016 Kaikaoura Earthquakes closed the roads. The landscape in some places has dramatically changed, but wow it is still just stunning. I think I had forgotten how special this part of the world really is. This coastal drive has an awe about it, every time we travel it I fall in love again. The road work repairs are mind blowing, the damage devastating, but wow, if you want a moment to feel proud of what Kiwis can do when they have to pull together, this is such an example.

The scenery and the abundance of seals makes this a gorgeous route. A slight pang of sadness as we drove past our favourite little seal colony at Ohau Point, but the seals seem pretty happy with all the new rocky outcrops that have lifted above the sea level, that they now occupy. There is still much to be done on the road, but when it is finished it will be sensational, and even safer with pull off areas to soak up the beautiful scenery and marvel at the seals going about their daily lives.

Heading through the dairy farms and down through the valley towards Hanmer Springs is a beautiful sight at this time of the year. The hill tops are all covered in a layer of snow, and with the sun going down showing their last light and pink hues, we knew we were in for a magic weekend.

We set up home for our three night getaway at the Hanmer Springs Top 10 Holiday Park in a 2 bedroom motel room. Pleasantly surprised by how neat, tidy and roomy it was. All with full sky TV, wifi, coffee pod machine and brand new hot tubs to soak in under the stars! Sitting down to my favourite bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and a home made lasagne, we looked forward to a couple of fun family filled days....

The snow top mountains that surround Hanmer Springs shows this holiday village in all its beautiful glory. Tramping was always on the agenda so out to the Hanmer Forest Park and up the Waterfall Track we went. It was a sunny fresh day, and the ground was hard with frost even in the early afternoon. With our beanies on (and Sammy's stash of fruit burst lollies) we headed up the hill. As we tramped higher and higher the path transitioned from brown bush track, to frost, to snow! It was just beautiful and much to our excitement snow was covering the trees, the ground and the steps. WOW!

Nothing like letting other family members move on ahead of you so THEY can shake the trees to shower the rest of us in powder snow! We reach the end of the track and hear and see the spectacular 41m Dog Stream Waterfall.

The round trip took us about 3 hours meandering through mountain beech / tawhai forest.

Hanmer Bakery Cafe is always a must.....to re-charge and feed hungry tummies. I can honestly say the blueberry muffin I had was one of the freshest, fluffiest I have had for a very long time!

An hour of family fun was had by peddling our way around the Hanmer Springs village on a Village Adventurer ‘Rocket’ from Hanmer Springs Adventure Centre. Ross introduced us to our Rocket and made us all raise our right hands up and swear an oath that we would look after ourselves, our rocket and have fun, we were then on our merry way! What a cool way to see the township and soak up the snowy mountains and the autumn leaves. Did I mention it’s also a good way to get your kids to do some extra exercise and the ultimate way for the parents to embarrass their children 😊

Amuri Jet thrilled us on their Jet Boat ride.

The skill, calmness and local knowledge of Brendon our driver, and co-owner of Amuri Jet, was nothing short of impressive.

The scenery was stunning, and the adrenaline was pumping with being up so close and close! to the canyon walls and trees on the edge of the Waiau Gorge. At times we passed within centimeters of rugged rocks and cliff faces. The rapids were showing all their fury as we were launched over them. The squeals of terror and delight from a seat full of young ladies on a birthday mission was as entertaining as the ride itself! The narrow gorges, braided shallows, white water rapids this trip definitely has them all.

On our Rocket cycling trip we noticed a sign for wood fired pizzas and as lunch approached we all new where to go! Saints Cafe Bar & Restaurant was the place. Two pizzas were enough for this hungry family of 5. (Plus a wine and beer!) The wooden tables, friendly staff and atmosphere was great. The kids went outside while the pizzas were in the oven to play connect 4 on a life sized connect 4 set....all happy!

A much more relaxing yet enjoyable family thing to do is visit the Hanmer Springs Animal Park.

Hosted by Kirsty, Mum and Dad headed off with a coffee in hand and the girls a bag of animal nibbles each to visit the wide range of furry friends they have in the park. The park has a large range of both exotic and farm animals including Tibetan yak, water buffalo, deer, goats, pigs, sheep, pony and donkeys, alpacas, Llama, emu and ostrich, plus many others. Funnily enough, our Aussie born kids could not get enough of the cute wallabies. Plenty of beautiful grassed areas to spread out have a family picnic, huge trampoline for those that like jumping and a lovely indoors area for some R&R close to the fire - Thanks Kirsty we will be back again.

No trip is complete to Hanmer without a visit to the hot pools - Hanmer Springs Thermals Pools & Spa. We did many repeats of up and down the steps for the slides and the super bowl ride, kids and adults alike 😊

Our toes just about freezing off walking up the stairs, then once in the slide and feeling the warm water we could relax again as our feet defrosted. The kids kept going for hours. Mum and Dad much keener to soak in the super hot tubs and relax! How beautiful it was to do this on the first day of winter with sunshine, snow already on the mountains….super warm and relaxed looking at such a stunning outlook. Just beautiful! The pools are all at different temperatures, I am always keen to hang in the 41 degree tub, the kids not so keen….ahh bonus! Close to the end of the day once showered and warm, we hit the café for a wine and a bowl of hot chips……still while keeping a watch on the kids going up and down the slides! Look someone has to do it!

Krissy from the Hot Pools sparked the idea that next visit Mum might have to sneak off to the spa and have herself a little pamper session…what a great idea Krissy!

Our choice for a night out to dinner was across the road from the Hot Pools at Fire & Ice. The food was sensational, and satisfied my hunger for a great steak. You can choose any cut of steak you please and cooked how you like, with what you like. My kind of place! There is plenty of other food available including fish, pasta, burgers to name just a few. The staff were both friendly and professional. Their ease at adjusting the tables to suit any sized group as they arrived astounded us, sometimes they seem to do this so quickly and quietly we started to think they were magic! One minute there was a table for two, the next a table for ten! The restaurant is set up stylish yet casual and super cosy with fire places for the winter. Outside dining has two large fireplaces plus fire lanterns around the courtyard. There is even a playground in the corner for little people. My family thoroughly enjoyed our evening out at Fire and Ice. They even had my favourite kind of music playing softly in the background. Thanks Bobby and staff for a lovely night out.

Hanmer Springs has it all for a relaxing fun family weekend away at any time of year, but winter is truly sensational.

Susie x

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