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- 29 Jan 2020, 3 nights
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At Hanmer Springs in New Zealand, you might just think you're living in a postcard. This alpine village on the South Island is a beauty spot known for its thermal pools and mineral spas. It's also a fabulous place to hike and ski, with snow-capped mountains everywhere you look. Nearby gorges and whitewater rapids mean you can have your adrenaline pumping one minute and your feet up while you fish for trout the next.
Immerse yourself in the mountainous scenery at a Hanmer Springs hostel in a Swiss chalet that's backed by forest. You can treat yourself to a little luxury at a boutique lodge not far from the famous spa or get cosy at a place with a log fire. Look out for hostels with self-catering facilities if you want to save money on cooking and laundry. Some Hanmer Springs backpackers hostels provide towels and bed linen to make your stay an easy one.
Hanmer Springs is a small place surrounded by mountains and forest. Stay in the heart of the village for easy access to everything from its thermal spa to climbing routes and walking trails. Mount Lyford is a ski station about an hour away, with pistes for all abilities. For surfing, you can head for Amberley, a chilled-out town by the coast with beach and sea views. It's also known for its craft shops and wine.
In Hanmer Springs, the most popular activity is to take advantage of the thermal spa. Let the mineral water soothe your muscles while you bask in the forest landscape. For a view from above, take the hour-long woodland walk up to Conical Hill and look out over the village. You can discover early Maori art at the Weka Pass Reserve, a limestone shelter with ancient paintings on the rock walls. For food and souvenirs, the Saturday market has stalls selling local specialities and crafts.
If you're planning on getting to Hanmer Springs by plane, Christchurch International Airport is your nearest port of call. From there, it's around 90 minutes by car to the village or a 3-hour bus journey, though the low-cost ticket fare makes it worth it. Local companies will organise shuttle transport if you prefer and you can get around the village on foot or hired car once you're there.