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    Hanmer Springs resort built around Thermal Reserve

    Dorothy Hunt - 18/06/04

    Needing a break?
    Find a free weekend or even a free day and go to Hanmer Springs - just a two hour trip from Christchurch .

    Plan your day from a wide range of choices.

    • Soaking in the hot pools for relaxation or to ease aching muscles or joints
    • A Hanmer Forest walk of the length that fits your programme and your fitness
    • Mountain biking
    • Golf or mini-golf
    • Fishing, guided hiking, hunting, lake kayaking, rafting, jet boating,abseiling, orienteering, horse trekking
    • Bungy jumping from the Waiau River bridge
    • Skiing in winter at the Amuri Ski Field
    • A scenic flight
    • A tour to Rainbow or Molesworth Station
    • Shopping or window shopping among the fashion shops and galleries or at one of the regular street markets
    • Restaurants in your price range with one of the delicious meals featured on the menu boards
    • Staying the night at one of a wide range of motels, hotels, B & Bs, backpackers, and holiday parks.

    Hanmer Springs is such a popular place for a holiday that you would be wise to book your accommodation in advance, especially if you plan to visit in a holiday period.

    For more information email the Visitor Information Centre

    Where are the Hanmer Plain and Hanmer Springs township?
    Hanmer Springs is in a sheltered upland basin known as the Hanmer Plain. It is 7 km north of the junction of the Hanmer and the Waiau Rivers. It is 322 metres above sea-level and sheltered by mountains from the prevailing moist westerly winds. The district is named after Thomas Hanmer who was involved in the early surveys.

    Early days at Hanmer
    In pre-European times Maori were aware of the hot pools and the legendary explanation for their existence was that a piece of the fire sent from Kawaiki to warm Ngatoroirangi as he lay freezing on Mt Ngauruhoe in the North Island spread south to create various land features including the pools.

    Dates significant in the development of Hanmer Springs
    1852 - the first sheep were driven overland from Nelson via Jollies Pass by Jollie and Lee. Huge sheep-runs were developed including St Helen's.
    1859 - the first pakeha to discover the pools is thought to be William Jones of St Helen's station.. He went to the area to investigate the cause of a fog, and found that it was actually steam rising from hot pools. He encouraged people to visit the area, but after twenty years there was only a tin shed beside the pools.
    1859 - on 20 April, the Lyttelton Times commented on the discovery of the hot springs.
    1862 - Hanmer was part of the Nelson Province and the Nelson Provincial Government established a small accommodation house at the foot of Jollies Pass. The Hanmer Plains Reserve of 2,500 acres was surveyed.
    1863 - four horsemen and stock are recorded as having crossed the Waiau Swing Bridge which had been built at a cost of $2000.
    1874 - a windstorm demolished the bridge. When the river was not in flood coaches forded the river.
    1881- an article in the Lyttelton Times complained that there was still no bridge over the Waiau River.
    1883 - the Government claimed the springs as a health-giving resort.
    1884 - the Lyttelton Times mentions the bath house which included private baths and a pool for men.
    1887 - the Waiau Ferry Bridge was opened on August 6. The ironwork for the bridge was manufactured close to the site.
    1887 - The Lodge Hotel, built by Robert Hood, was opened.
    1902 - forestry began after the purchase of 600 acres of the St Helen's run.
    1905 - the name Hanmer Springs was used by the Post Office.
    1914 - a sanatorium opened giving health cures - daily visits to the baths, walks, early nights, weight reduction by massage. Burnt down same year.
    1916 - Queen Mary Hospital opened as a convalescent home for returned soldiers, and then gave hydrotherapy and therapy for nervous disorders.
    1927 - the accommodation house at the foot of Jollies Pass was burnt down.
    1932 - a new Spanish style building was opened for The Lodge.
    1937 - the road through the Lewis Pass opened, giving easier access to Hanmer Springs for travellers from the West Coast and from Nelson,
    1958 - the Lodge Hotel was burnt down after a fire started in the old part of the hotel.
    1960 - the rebuilt hotel opened.
    1971 - Queen Mary Hospital's function changed to treating alcoholics.
    1975 - windstorm with a nor'west gale of 170 km/h followed six months later by a fire in the Hanmer Forest destroying 273 hectares of forest.
    2003 - Queen Mary Hospital closed.

    Hanmer Springs Thermal Reserve
    The Hanmer Springs Thermal Reserve offers a range of attractions - the hot pools, the high waterslide, the sauna, private pools for two people, massage and beauty treatments.

    There are seven open-air thermal pools. Beside each pool is a notice giving the temperature of the water. Temperatures range from 34 to 42 C. There is also a 25-metre freshwater heated pool for those who want to swim, rather than just relax. Attractive areas to relax or picnic are built beside the pools. There is a cafe with bar facilities.

    Adults and children enjoy the hot pool
    Adults and children enjoy the hot pool

    Click here to view a larger version

    For the children there is a special family activity pool with water toys and two slides.

    The small waterslide is ideal for the children in the family.
    The small waterslide is ideal for the children in the family.

    Click here to view a larger version

    A pamper package includes a night's accommodation, a half hour massage or half an hour in the sauna or steam, half an hour in a private pool and return passes to the pools for two people.

    A recommended programme for the day visitor
    Conical Hill
    A walk in Hanmer Forest is a good way to begin the day, especially if you have been sitting in the car, bus or shuttle for a couple of hours. The walk up Conical Hill - one hour return -is probably the best known, and it has the advantage of providing views of the town, the Hanmer Plain, and the mountains as you walk. It was first created as a zig zag on a hillside covered with tussock. Since then planting of a wide variety of exotic trees has turned the hill into a pleasant wooded area, with shade for those walking on hot days. At the top there is a shelter which again offers shade as well as a place to rest before walking downhill. From the lookout there is a 360 degree view. There is also a plaque in commemoration of the work done in the Hanmer area by early settler Duncan Rutherford.

    Keen walkers may choose to walk down the road from the summit on the other side of the hill. This leads to Pawsons Road which in turn leads to the Woodland Walk.

    Gae took some photos on her way up the hill.

    Taken near the start of the climb - a new subdvision with an impressive backdrop of snowy mountains and massed clouds
    Taken near the start of the climb - a new subdvision with an impressive backdrop of snowy mountains and massed clouds

    Click here to view a larger version

    The main street of the township, the Hanmer Plain and the Leslie Hills, taken from part way up Conical  Hill
    The main street of the township, the Hanmer Plain and the Leslie Hills, taken from part way up Conical Hill

    Click here to view a larger version

    Woodland Walk
    This walk takes you through typical woodland forest, meadows and plantations of exotic trees. For some distance it follows a stream and passes small lakes. It is supposed to be a 45 minute walk, but I suggest you allow longer so that you can appreciate the beauty around you and listen to the bird song. It is easy walking and suitable for a family outing. A wheelchair track opens part of the area to those who cannot walk the track.

    Children enjoy one of the Woodland Lakes
    Children enjoy one of the Woodland Lakes

    Click here to view a larger version

    An afternoon programme
    A visit to the pools, a meal at a restaurant or a picnic, and some shopping or window shopping will make an interesting afternoon programme.

    Choose from among the interesting activities featured in the Visitor Information Centre and make some bookings for the following day or for your next visit to Hanmer Springs.

    Published with permission from NZine