We plan to visit the Abel Tasman National Park and surrounding areas on the north-west corner of the South Island, as this is somewhere we have never visited before, and it is reputed to be very beautiful.
On the way, we decided to have a one night stop in the township of Hanmer Springs, part of the Alpine Pacific Triangle Touring Route featuring wine, whales and thermal water. The whales are to be seen at Kaikoura, further up the west coast, which is somewhere we passed through on our last trip to New Zealand, so we headed inland to the Alpine spa village at Hanmer Springs.
As we headed north from Christchurch, we drove through the Waipura wine region we visited a few days ago, passing rows and rows of vines.
We drove across the Waiau Ferry bridge over the Waiau River which only allows one vehicle at a time to cross, and within a few kilometres we were at our destination.
The very pretty village of Hanmer Springs is set in a high country basin, amidst lots of trees, some 385 metres above sea level. It is famed for it’s thermal pools and has been voted the “Number One must-do thing for Kiwis” by the AA.
Originally “taking the cure” consisted of walking the forest trails, inhaling the invigorating alpine air and daily bathing in the therapeutic, hot, natural mineral water pools. Things are much the same these days as you can relax in sulphur pools, sculptured rock pools, aqua therapy and soaker pools where temperatures range from 33C – 41C. Some are gushing while others are bubbling with jets. The pools fed by geothermal water drawn from an adjacent bore.
Set in the heart of the village, the thermal pools have been attracting visitors for over 125 years and offer 15 open-air thermal pools of varying temperature as well as a freshwater lap pool, family zone and private thermal pools. Of course you can pay for massages, facials and a whole host of body treatments and hot stone therapies.
There are also six private thermal pools available for couples or groups of up to six people and, as we had found a voucher for a FREE upgrade (yes, Michael’s favourite price) to one of these pools – we just had to have a go! The water was about four feet deep with steps down into pool. There were three much needed air vents to allow in some cool air for when you get too hot (me), with a huge picture window on one side overlooking private gardens and trees. It was a real treat to get away from all the kids!
We opted for a return pass ticket, so that we could visit the pools soon after our afternoon arrival, and could return once again for an evening session.
It was great to relax before a fairly long drive to the northwest of the South Island, to Golden Bay and Abel Tasman National Park.