Located in the northern part of the rather large Canterbury region of the South Island of New Zealand and nestled in-between mountain ranges on all sides, Hanmer Springs is famous for one thing in particular…
They have other tourist attractions similar to Queenstown such as bungee jumping, jet boating, hiking, skiing, etc, but the hot pools are the most famous and most popular attraction here.
An hour-and-a-half drive from Christchurch, where I’ve lived and worked for 6 months, this is the perfect day-trip destination for those who live in or are visiting the Canterbury region.
I visited in July, winter in the Southern Hemisphere (opposite seasons as the Northern Hemisphere) on a sunny day and not too cold outside.
Thankfully, while living in Christchurch, I owned a car or else we would have had to take one of the daily InterCity™ buses to and from Hanmer Springs. The bus is only $30 NZD each way ($60 NZD Round-trip) which is not too expensive considering gasoline prices at the time were $2.21/liter and I spent about $30 driving myself and my then-girlfriend the length of the trip.
Once we arrived it was clear that the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa are the most popular attraction and that the town was literally built around them. Parking the car took some time because the popularity of the pools but I guess that’s not a problem if you take the bus.
The entry fee you pay depends on how well you plan and when you buy because you could either pay at the entrance or use a Groupon-like booking site popular in New Zealand called bookme.co.nz and get entrance for as little as $11 NZD.
Our plans were weather-dependent so we just paid the full price entry-fee of $24 NZD. It was windy and rainy on Saturday so we opted to go Sunday, therefore, bookme.co.nz would not have been a good idea in this case.
Based on the pictures on their website you would think this place is empty and you’d enjoy the facility to all to yourself.
People everywhere; kids running around, pools packed, locker room stuffed with bodies, and we even had trouble finding an available locker. (added $2 for 2 hours to rent)
Simply put, it was a busy day.
I just don’t think I was ready for how busy it was but I actually had an amazing time. It’s like the Disneyland of hot springs!
It was busy, yeah, but not so busy that I didn’t have a good time.
Moving around from pool to pool was probably my favorite part. “This one over here has nobody in it!” “This one over here is 40°C! (104°F)”
All the different types of pools. Rock Pools, Hexagonal Pools, Sulfur Pools, Rainbow Pools, oh my. There’s even a whole waterpark area with slides and a lazy river if that’s your thing.
If your looking for a more private experience they offer private thermal pools for rent along with private steam and sauna rooms as well as massages. I would have liked to use these services but I’m a backpacker on a budget.
Overall I had a great time and I would come here again but unfortunately I am leaving the country soon and may never come back. If I return to Christchurch again later in my life I would probably come back here.
I am not affiliated with Hanmer Springs in any way. This is my unbiased review.
Contact them directly for more info below
Address: 42 Amuri Ave, Hanmer Springs 7334
Phone: +64 3 315 0000
Freephone (within NZ only): 0800 442 663
Hours: Open 7 days 10am – 9am, except Christmas Day, hours can change depending on needs.
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