19 epic things to do in Hanmer Springs [including Discounts]

Join us as we share 20 of the most incredible things to do in Hanmer Springs.

Strikingly beautiful and action-packed, Hanmer Springs is a favourite destination for locals and tourists alike.

This small township is easily accessible from both Christchurch and Kaikoura, and though it’s suitable for a day trip, we recommend you spend much longer there.

Whether you’re travelling to this incredible part of New Zealand as a solo traveller, a couple looking for a romantic getaway, a group of friends or a family, you will find a wealth of things to do in Hanmer Springs!

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A red speed boat cruising in the middle of the river surrounded by steep and rocky banks.
Photo credit: Graeme Murray.

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The Ultimate Collection of Things to Do in Hanmer Springs

Uniquely-Hanmer Activities

1. Explore Hanmer Springs’ Hot Pools – One of New Zealand’s Premier Hot Pool Facilities

If there’s one thing and one thing only you do whilst visiting Hanmer Springs, it has to be a visit to the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa!

As one of the best hot springs in New Zealand, this incredible facility offers countless hot pools (each heated to different temperatures to ensure your comfort). There you’ll find relaxing rock pools, spas with water jets and bubbles and soothing sulphur pools too.

For kids (and the young at heart) they have a number of exciting hydroslides (that are by far the best you’ll find in New Zealand) along with an activity pool, lazy river and a lap pool.

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

Should you choose, you’re also able to book a luxurious spa treatment or a spot in one of their private pools.

Though the Hanmer Springs Pools are gorgeous year round, they’re especially magical in the wintertime with snow on the ground and frost in the air! This makes them one of the best hot pools in the South Island.

42 Amuri Avenue, Hanmer Springs 7334

Steam of a pool coming out of the hot springs.
Photo credit: Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa.

2. In the Wintertime, Go Snowboarding or Skiing

Speaking of a wintertime visit, many are surprised to learn that Hanmer Springs has an easily accessible sky field.

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!

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

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.

This is an old-school 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

Did you know? If you’re willing to travel a little further, you’ll find the Mt Lyford Alpine Resort 40-minutes from Hanmer.

A person skiing on the slopes while the mountain ranges stood at a distance.
Photo credit: Hanmer Springs Ski Area.

3. Take a Hanmer Rocket for a Spin!

If you’re looking for a unique way to see the sights around town, there’s no doubt how you should do so – in a Hanmer Rocket!

These fun-filled peddling machines are the ultimate in fun and with a manageable learning curve (and no need for a sense of balance) you’ll be off exploring in no time.

A mini rocket will seat up to 2 adults and 1 child whilst a maxi rocket handles 4 adults and 2 children, and as they’re booked for either 30 minutes or 1 hour, they’re the perfect way to fill in time between other activities.

Hanmer Springs is a great day trip from Christchurch, as is Akaroa. Learn about the best things to do in Akaroa.

20 Conical Hill Rd, Hanmer Springs 7334

Tourists riding on four-wheeled white bikes that look like a car.
Photo credit: Hanmer Rocket

4. Treat Your Sweet Tooth

New Zealand has many local foods that you should try, especially desserts. In Hanmer Springs, there are two must-visit shops if you love the sweet stuff – The Lolly Pot and The Fudge Shop.

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 or lollies, we can all agree that The Lolly Shop is something else.

Selling both local and imported lollies, this shop is sure to take you right back to your childhood (or be the making of amazing childhood memories for your little one).

40 Conical Hill Road, Hanmer Springs 7334

The Fudge Shop

If you prefer your sweets on the smooth and creamy side, head straight for The Fudge Shop.

This is the original fudge shop in Hanmer Springs (having opened in 2001). They make all of their treats freshly onsite and have a range of delicious flavours including maple nut, gingernut crumble and crème brûlée.

Whether you choose to treat yourself or buy gifts for friends and family back home, we recommend paying The Fudge Shop a visit.

16 Conical Hill Road, Hanmer Springs 7334

Did you know? The Fudge Shop ship their fudge right across New Zealand so you can have a taste of Hanmer Springs wherever you are.

Signs indicating different flavours like Passionfruit 'N Caramel and Chocolate inside Fudge Shop.
Photo credit: The Fudge Shop.

Animal Encounters in Hanmer Springs

5. Hit the Saddle

There are two wonderful horse riding options near Hanmer Springs.

Hanmer Horse Trekking

A family-run business, Hanmer Horse Trekking is as down-to-earth as it comes. A quick 5-minute drive, it is also the closest riding to town.

With a range of beautifully-mannered horses, they’re able to cater to everyone – right from little ones riding for the first time to those with experience.

If you’re travelling with a child we recommend the OK Coral Pony Rides. 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.

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

300 Woodbank Road, Hanmer Springs 7334

Pukatea Trails

If you’re looking for a unique horse riding experience in the region, there’s only one place to head – Pukatea Trails.

Incredibly, Pukatea Trails offer experienced riders the opportunity to head out ‘freedom trekking’ through the St James Conservation Area.

Hire your well-mannered horse and head out unguided, exploring 78,000 hectares spread across three mountain ranges. With snowy mountain tops, beech forests, open rivers and so much more, this is incredible backcountry to explore.

Accommodation is available in huts (or it’s possible to camp) should you wish to stay overnight (which we highly recommend).

​Or, if you would prefer, they also offer guided treks (from hour-long options to overnight adventures) and stagecoach rides.

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

A woman walking through the golden bushes of Pukatea Trails with her horses behind.
Photo credit: Luke Care.

6. Visit the Local Animal Park

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-feeding 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.

Llamas and a lamb eating grass while children play on an old tractor in Hanmer Springs and Animal Park.
Photo credit: Hanmer Springs Animal Park.

7. Try Your Hand at Llama Trekking

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

This fun, interactive and educational experience takes in the beautiful scenery around Hanmer – all whilst you get your daily steps in.

You’ll choose your llama, load him up with your gear and head off into the surrounding area with your guide (and your llama, of course).

Offering everything from one-day walks to multi-night adventures, this is a fun, leisurely way to take in the best of what the area offers with your newfound furry friend.

The pace is very reasonable and plenty of stops are factored in, making this experience suitable for practically all levels of fitness. As a general rule, they accept children 7+, but they do welcome a conversation if you have younger family members with you.

Medway Road, Hanmer Springs Save, Hanmer Springs 7334

A backpacker walking on a trail while leading two llamas carrying bags and equipment.
Photo credit: Hanmer Llamas.

Tap into Your Adventurous Side

All of the following adventure activities are conveniently located at Hanmer Springs Attractions which you’ll find as you head towards Hanmer Springs.

8. Take a Ride on a Jet Boat

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

This particular ride races through 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.

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

Suitable for both adventure-seekers and families, this is an unmissable local activity.

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

Tourists raising their hands while riding on a speed boat.
Photo credit: Graeme Murray.

9. Join a Quad Bike Safari

A quad biking trip is one of the most exciting things to do in Hanmer Springs.

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 join an experienced guide as you drive your own single-seater quad bike. There’s no need to have experience riding these bikes (nor any need for a sense of balance). They’re easy to control and full-training will be provided.

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

Hanmer Springs Attractions, 839 Hanmer Springs Rd, Hanmer Springs

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+).

A teenage woman driving a red quad bike through a road covered with water.
Photo credit: Hanmer Springs Attractions.

10. Head Out River Rafting on a Grade 2 River

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

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

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 upstream.

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

Group of tourists paddling on a red raft while navigating along the river.
Photo credit: Hanmer Springs Attractions.

11. Enjoy an Inflatable Canoe River Trip

Another awesome option on the river, inflatable canoe trips are also on offer.

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 is great for couples, families and groups.

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.

12. Bungy Jump Off a Bridge!

If there’s one activity for adrenaline junkies to take on in Hanmer, a bungy jump is surely top of the list!

This is the only place to jump in Canterbury and with an impressive 35-metre freefall, it’s a fair challenge.

What’s more, the beautiful jump site is located on the bridge that you’ll use to enter town. Even if you’re not keen to jump, it’s fun to watch as others do.

If you do decide to take the leap of faith, you’ll be briefed on the different jump options available (which include the ability to jump tandem with a buddy). You’ll be put into your full-body harness and ankle harness before inching your way closer to the edge and jumping.

Included in your jump is a certificate and t-shirt, whilst photos and video footage is available for an additional charge.

While Queenstown bungy jumping is the most well-known destination in New Zealand, you should definitely consider trying it in Hanmer, where you can jump from a 135-year-old bridge.

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

A woman spreads her arms on a bungy dive while a small red boat stands by on the river.
Photo credit: Hanmer Springs Attractions.

13. Check Out these Hanmer Springs Walks

Walks for Families and Children

  • 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.

General Bush Walks

  • Head to the top of Conical Hill. Perhaps the most well-known walk in Hanmer, this walk is definitely worth checking out. This 30-minute walk to the lookout offers views of the township 200m below. The trail itself is a gentle zigzag. We recommend heading there ready for a beautiful sunset – just remember your torch for the walk back down. Start at 88 Conical Hill Road.
  • Check out the Waterfall Track. Another popular walk in the area, the Waterfall Track covers 2.44km and takes approximately 3 hours return – unsurprisingly, it takes you to a spectacular waterfall! Start at McIntyres Road (accessed off Jollies Pass Road).
  • Climb Mount Isobel. There are a number of different ways to climb Mount Isobel but however you do it, this is a worthwhile day tramp. With bellbirds and beautiful scenery, this walk always gets great reviews. It can be combined with the Waterfall Track too.

Hop On Yer Bike

14. Ride the St James Cycle Trail

The St James Cycle Trail is one of many special cycle trails found throughout New Zealand.

At 64km in length with an elevation difference of 710m, this is a wonderful trail through beautiful back country.

Depending on your fitness (and how often you stop for photos), you can expect to take 6-9 hours to complete this trail, spread over either one or two days (with accommodation available). You’ll want a reasonable level of fitness and to be reasonably confident on a bike.

The trail itself is relatively challenging, offering mixed riding past beautiful waterways, high country lakes, beech forests, alpine meadows and stunning mount peaks.

During the spring season, keep your eyes peeled for alpine meadows in flower. Whilst the summertime, you’ll enjoy long evenings and the chance to see St James’ wild horses.

The trail begins and ends at the Maling Pass and St James Homestead entrances, and transportation can be arranged in town through the Hanmer Adventure Centre, which also offers bike rentals.

Pro Tip: If you’d rather not complete the full trail, it’s possible to ride a 15km loop known as the Homestead Run. This is the last part of the St James Cycle Way.

A trail with a wooden sign beside it showing the distance and direction of St. James Walkway and Walau Pass Track.

15. Hit the Mountain Bike Trails in Town

Hanmer Springs is home to a number of memorable mountain bike tracks.

Favourites include the likes of the Swamp Track, Tombstone, Perseverance, Red Rock and Eenie Meenie.

We suggest hiring your bike in town (or bringing your own if travelling by car) and hitting the trails that look most suited to your experience and desire for thrill.

Golf Galore in Hanmer Springs!

For such a small town, Hanmer Springs has a lot of golfing! From mini golf to a full course, you’ll have no issue getting your golf fix here.

16. Challenge Your Friends and Family to Mini Golf

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 whānau.

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 a real favourite with families. In addition, they have an adventure maze onsite (called the Lost Temple) – we recommend you check both out on a combo ticket.

1 Fraser Close, Hanmer Springs 7334

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

17. Play a Round at the Hanmer Springs Golf Club

Fancy yourself some real golf?

Hanmer Springs have you covered there too – we did tell you there was a lot of golf on offer in this small township!

The Hanmer Springs Golf Club is a popular 18-hole country course that rewards players with spectacular views and a relaxed feel. If you enjoy playing golf, it’s well worth checking out this course – in fact, many would say you have to play this course at least once!

Visitors are welcome and clubs and carts can easily be rented onsite. Just be sure to book your tee-time in advance.

This course is equally rewarding and enjoyable for golfers of all ages and abilities. The pro’s love playing here. But those of us at, shall we say, a more basic standard, tend to fall in love with the course immediately too. As well as world class greens and magnificent views, there’s something magical in the air here.

Hanmer Springs Golf Course

133 Argelins Road, Hanmer Springs 7334

A golf club about to hit a golf ball on the grass.

18. Grab a Bite to Eat

With so much to do in Hanmer Springs you’ll want to be able to recharge with delicious food too. Thankfully, that isn’t a problem.

This gorgeous little town has lots of dining options to get excited about.

Whilst in town, we recommend checking out the following:

  • Si Gelato. Delicious gelato – need we say more?
  • Hanmer Bakery. Everything here is amazing but we particularly recommend their croissants and doughnut balls.
  • Roasted Bean. Delicious freshly brewed coffee and great pizza served after 5pm.
  • Saints. You’ll find fantastic pizzas and stonegrill here.
  • The Powerhouse. Our top recommendation for a delicious, freshly cooked breakfast (in a historic setting, no less).
  • Fire and Ice restaurant. With a beautiful atmosphere, this is a great place for quality pub grub.
  • MK Restaurant. Specialising in pierogies (but serving other dishes too), this is an excellent dinner option.
  • No. 31 Restaurant & Bar. Serving modern Kiwi cuisine, this is the place to head if you’re celebrating a special occasion.
  • Boulder Burgers. With impeccable theming and juicy burgers, this is a burger joint worthy of a visit.
Different colours and flavours of gelato inside a glass display.
Photo credit: Si Gelato.

19. Enjoy a Wine Tasting

Last but not least on our list of things to do in Hanmer Springs is a wine tasting. After all of the other activities, we think you’ll be deserving of a good drop!

You’ll find Waiau River Estate on the drive into town (just before the bungy bridge).

Since 2008, they’ve been producing award-winning New Zealand wines including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, whilst also serving delicious meals.

At the time of writing, the Waiau River Estate was closed for renovations. Please keep an eye on their website for their reopening date.

Hanmer Springs Wines also grows and produces locally and will soon be opening a tasting room.

Or, if you’re happy to travel a little further out of town there are lots of other wineries on Hanmer’s doorstep.

2254 Mouse Point Road, Leslie Hills, Hanmer Springs 7334

Whilst nearby, check out the best things to do in Kaikoura.

With so, so much to do in Hanmer Springs, ensure you plan to spend plenty of time there.

Happy travels!

Thank you to the members of NZTT for adding their fantastic local recommendations to this post.

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