14 things to do in Hanmer Springs with kids: Fantastic family fun

Plan an amazing vacation with these things to do in Hanmer Springs with kids.

Just 1 hour and 40 minutes from Christchurch, Hanmer Springs is an incredible holiday destination.

If there’s one place you’re guaranteed to make incredible family memories, this is it!

With fantastic (ethical) animal encounters, kid-friendly adventure activities, opportunities to enjoy the fantastic scenery all around and so much more, you’ll want to ensure plenty of time in the region to do all those things.

We suggest using our guide to plan your family’s visit to Hanmer Springs.

Some businesses are experiencing staffing challenges post-COVID. If you want to guarantee a space at a restaurant or attraction, we suggest pre-booking.

A family with their toddler enjoying the blue swimming pool.
Take a dip at Hanmer Springs – probably the best hot pools in New Zealand!

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Awesome Things to Do in Hanmer Springs with Kids

1. Explore Hanmer Springs’ Hot Pools – The Ultimate in Hanmer Fun!

Suitable for all ages.

Without a doubt, when you visit Hanmer Springs with your family, you have to visit the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa! It’s one of the most magical hot springs in the South Island and the whole of New Zealand.

With a number of amazing hydroslides (that are by far the best you’ll find in New Zealand) like Conical Thrill and the SuperBowl, it’s easy to spend an afternoon slipping, sliding and rafting away.

In addition, you’ll find an activity pool, lazy river and a lap pool, along with their AquaPlay area which is perfect for kids under 8 (and toddlers too).

For adults of older children, there are plenty of gorgeously-heated pools nearby, allowing you to relax whilst the kids run off some steam.

Hanmer Thermal Pools are great fun for adult and kids alike. There are adult-only pools for those that like a moment or three to themselves. And for the more adventurous – I dare you all to ride Conical Thrill – it’s a completely crazy ride that needs to be on everyone’s must-do list!

Mandy – NZTT member

42 Amuri Avenue, Hanmer Springs 7334

2. Visit the Local Animal Park

Suitable for all ages.

The Hanmer Springs Animal Park is another family-friendly thing to do in Hanmer Springs.

Set on 6 hectares of land, this park is an easy 10 minute walk from town. There, you’ll be free to roam their purpose-built farm park, meeting and hand deeding their animals. With a range of creatures, including sheep and lambs, pigs, goats, ponies, donkeys, cows, ostrich, emu, wallabies, water buffalo, deer, giant flemish rabbits, alpacas and llamas and more, there’s plenty to see.

Most excitingly, it’s possible to hop into their wallaby enclosure to hand feed and pat their friendly wallabies whilst you’re right beside them.

They also have a children’s play area that is a real hit with kids, trampolines and picnic tables.

We recommend heading along to enjoy a picnic in the sunshine – though it’s also possible to purchase food and drinks from their onsite cafe.

55 Hanmer Springs Road, Hanmer Springs 7334

Did you know? The pack is wheelchair accessible, making this a great option for everyone.

A baby girl wearing pink and feeding llamas and ducks in Hanmer Springs Animal Park.
Hand feed friendly animals. Photo credit: Hanmer Springs Animal Park.

3. Try Your Hand at Llama Trekking

Suitable for children aged 7+, though they will make exceptions to this.

A totally unique experience, why not try your hand at llama trekking?

This fun, interactive and educational experience takes in the beautifully scenery around Hanmer – all whilst your kids burn some of that never-ending energy.

You’ll each choose your llama, load him up with your gear (there’s no need to carry your own backpacks, that’s what your llama buddy’s there for) and head off into the surrounding area with your guide (and your llama, of course).

The pace is very reasonable and plenty of stops are factored in, making this experience suitable for practically all levels of fitness.

For families, we recommend the single day trip, though amazing overnight adventures are also possible.

Medway Road, Hanmer Springs Save, Hanmer Springs 7334

A kid leading a llama with her sister following from behind also with a llama.
Photo credit: Hanmer Llamas.

4. Take a Ride on a Jet Boat

Suitable for children 3+.

Jet boats were invented in New Zealand, so if there’s on place you have to ride one, it’s here!

This particular ride races through the the spectacular Waiau River canyon. It’s filled with exciting near-misses at speed, all whilst travelling on just centimetres of water in some places – and of course, it’s suitable for kids.

Hold onto your hat as your skipper puts the jet through its paces with 360-degree spins. You’ll also ride over rapids and through tight gorges on this thrilling ride.

This is an unmissable local activity.

Hanmer Springs Attractions, 839 Hanmer Springs Rd, Hanmer Springs 7334

Tourists wearing red life jackets while riding on a red speed boat in Hanmer Springs.

5. Join a Off-Road Buggy Safari

Children 4+ can ride as a passenger.

Off-Road buggies are one of the best ways for families to have fun in Hanmer.

Racing through mud, streams, forests and over rocks, don’t expect to stay clean and dry on this trip. We can guarantee massive smiles and heaps of fun though!

This 2-hour trip is an action-packed way to see the best of Canterbury‘s back country terrain whilst travelling on and around their specially designed course. You’ll love hearing your children giggle with joy as they ride in the passenger seat beside you.

Or, if you have teens travelling with you, anyone 16+ can ride a single-seater quad bike.

We did the quad biking safari with our older teen boys and loved it! Plenty of river crossings which were really fun! 👍

Sue Barlow – NZTT member

Did you know? Though you need to be 16+ to drive your own quad bike, they also off off-road buggies that are suitable for a driver and passenger (4 years+).

Hanmer Springs Attractions, 839 Hanmer Springs Rd, Hanmer Springs 7334

A kid and his father driving on a quad while passing a road covered with water in Hanmer Springs Attractions.

6. Enjoy an Inflatable Canoe River Trip

Suitable for children 6+.

Another awesome option on the river, inflatable canoe trips are great for families.

In 3-seater inflatable canoes (also known as funyaks), you’ll enjoy a full-day guided trip down the stunning Waiau River.

You’ll receive all the training you need to safely and comfortably navigate the river, along with safety gear and a delicious picnic lunch.

After floating and paddling down the river, through canyons and over white water rapids, you’ll then join a jet boat ride back up to base.

This is a wonderful way to soak up beautiful local scenery and as it’s fairly subdued, it’s great for kids.

Hanmer Springs Attractions, 839 Hanmer Springs Rd, Hanmer Springs 7334

A father with her kids paddling on a yellow raft.
Photo credit: Hanmer Springs Attractions.

7. Head Out River Rafting (Grade 2)

Suitable for children 6+.

Explore the beautiful Grade 2 Waiau River with your whānau onboard an inflatable raft.

This family-friendly trip is suitable for all ages and experience levels, making it the ideal introduction to water rafting. Plus, with rafts that seat 9 people, it’s easy to keep your group together on the water.

With incredible scenery all around and some fun little rapids, this is the perfect way to spend a warm Hanmer day.

All gear is provided, you’ll just need to have your togs (swimsuit) and a towel ready to dry off.

Offering great value for money, you’ll raft downstream and then hitch a ride onboard their jet boat travelling back up stream.

Hanmer Springs Attractions, 839 Hanmer Springs Rd, Hanmer Springs 7334

A family tourist wearing yellow life jackets with their guide rafting on a red boat.

8. Hanmer Horse Trekking

No minimum ages.

Horsemanship is a fantastic skill for children to learn. Looking after such gorgeous animals and learning empathy can really grow character.

At Hanmer Horse Trekking kids can experience a safe and comfortable introduction to their lovey horses.

During the OK Coral Pony Rides experience your child will have the chance to get to know their pony before being led on a 30-minute ride. This is the perfect opportunity for your little one to gain confidence around horses.

They also have two other ride options, both of which make the most of the stunning views around the area. These are a great option if your whānau have some riding experience.

300 Woodbank Road, Hanmer Springs 7334

Our horses aren’t just work horses they are part of our family. By choosing us you know the horses will always come first.

Hanmer Horse Trekking

Another fun horsey option for families can be found at Pukatea Trails.

Though they offer normal guided treks, which are suitable for older children and/or those with some experience around horses, they have an even better option for younger children – stagecoach rides.

Like something from the wild west, your family will board your stagecoach as your driver takes you all on a ride through some incredible scenery.

This is a great way to enjoy being around horses without actually being in charge of one yourself.

Tophouse Road, Hanmer Springs – a 35-minute drive from town.

A woman carrying a child in front of a brown horse.

9. Check Out these Hanmer Springs Walks

Suitable for everyone in the family.

  • Explore the Forest Amble Walk. This 30 minute walk is perfect for families. It travels through beautiful forest made all the more special thanks to countless carved wooden statues (including big friendly giant, orangutan, tuatara, falcon, and a dog). Start at 100 Jollies Pass Road.
  • Keep your eyes peeled on the Fairy Door Walk. Another 30-minute family-friendly walk, this time you’ll be keeping your eyes peeled for magical little fairy doors in the forest. From the Brooke Dawson Reserve, cross the bridge over Dog Stream and follow the path straight ahead. Remember to keep your eyes low to the ground – that’s where the fairies live.
  • Check out the family-friendly Woodland Walk. Though the Woodland Walk doesn’t include any of the fun eye-spy features of the previous two walks, it is perfect for families wanting a slightly longer wander. At 2.1km (and taking about an hour), this lovely walk moves through the Hanmer Forest, along with flax wetlands and meadows and past ponds. Start at the Hanmer Forest entrance car park – 103 Jollies Pass Road.
A tiny door with a sign, "Wise Oak Fairy", placed on the bark of a tree.

10. Challenge Your Family to Mini Golf

No minimum age requirements.

With two different courses to choose from, mini golf is a great way to pass the time in town.

Alpine Crazy Putt is a modern 18-hole course, located further into the township. This challenging course is fun for the whole family.

9 Conical Hill Road, Hanmer Springs 7334

Alternatively, A-Maze-N-Golf offers up an 18-hole course as you enter town. Their Gold Rush course is heavily themed and as such is lots of fun!

1 Fraser Close, Hanmer Springs 7334

A father teaching his kid to play golf in Alpine Crazy Putt.
Photo credit: Alpine Crazy Putt.

11. Maze

No minimum age requirement.

In addition to mini golf, A-Maze-N-Golf have an adventure maze onsite (called the Lost Temple).

Race around this themed maze in order to solve the mystery of the Lost Temple.

Will you ever escape?

We recommend you check both out on a combo ticket!

1 Fraser Close, Hanmer Springs 7334

A tourist holding a piece of paper with clues while inside the Lost Temple.
Photo credit: Visit Hanmer Springs.

12. Mountain Biking

No minimum age requirement.

Hanmer Springs is home to countless mountain bike tracks – many of which are suitable for kids.

If you have younger children (who are still fairly confident on their bikes), we recommend checking out Herdman Ave and the Camp Walk Loop.

This gentle ride through the Hanmer Forest Park goes past beautiful mature trees and with reasonably wide and flat paths, it’s a great introduction to family-friendly mountain biking. Allow approximately an hour.

If your children are older and more experienced on a mountain bike, head straight for the Dog Stream Track.

This trail required some hill climbing, narrower winding tracks and even stream crossings!

If you’re looking for more of a challenge for your family, this mountain biking track is for your family.

20 Conical Hill Road, Hanmer Springs 7334

A father and daughter wearing helmet while riding a mountain bike trailing in the woods.

13. In the Wintertime, Go Snowboarding or Skiing

Hanmer Springs has an easily accessible sky field that’s perfectly set up for families.

The Hanmer Springs Ski Area is located just 17km from the township. This club ski field has three lifts (a poma, rope tow and fixed grip tow). Though you won’t find a chair lift here, you’ll also find the slopes distinctly lacking in crowds which is a real bonus for younger kids who are learning to ski.

They also have a day lodge offering a comfortable place to relax; this is also the perfect spot to watch the little ones on the beginner’s slope. Plus there’s on-site backpacker-style accommodation should you wish to stay over.

You’ll also find a number of groomed runs and off piste snow, providing the appropriate level of challenge for all ages and stages.

This is an old-school family-friendly ski experience that can’t be beaten!

New Zealand Club Fields offer a truly unique grass roots, pared back, low key snow experience in huge contrast to the larger resorts of today. It’s our belief that a day on the snow is about who you’re with, where you are and not how hot your gear is!

The Hanmer Springs Ski Area

Mt St Patrick, Hanmer Springs 7334

A child in full winter outfit skiing on the snow while his father assists him with a harness from behind.

14. The Lolly Pot

This iconic sweet shop is located in the courtyard area of the Alpine Pacific Centre.

There you’ll find a wonderful collection of sugary treats. Whether you call them candies, sweets of lollies, your kids will agree that The Lolly Shop is something else.

Selling both local and imported lollies, this shop is sure to be the making of amazing childhood memories for your little ones.

40 Conical Hill Road, Hanmer Springs 7334

A Rainbow Nerds Candy in a supermarket.

With so many amazing things to do in Hanmer Springs with kids, what will you do first?

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