Check-in Desk: 5 great things to do in Hanmer Springs

Mountain biking in Hanmer Springs Forest, Canterbury. Photo /
Mountain biking in Hanmer Springs Forest, Canterbury. Photo /

1 Get serious on the golf course

You'll find recently rebuilt Alpine Crazy Putt, a fun but challenging 18-hole mini-golf course, right in the centre of town. A game will cost you $10 for adults, $7 for kids (5-15 years). Afterwards, wander next door to Village Cruisers, which has been operating in Hanmer for more than 15 years, and hire a pedal car with cute colours and even cuter names such as "Bubbles". Combo deals are available, or by themselves the carts cost from$16 per half-hour.

2 Go shopping

There are lots of cute boutique shops and galleries in town worth poking your nose into, and a wander around the village is a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. New mall The Village Centre, which opened in December, has 11 new shops, and on Saturdays during summer you'll find a craft market in the centre of town on The Heritage Reserve.

3 Relax yo' self

Known as the unofficial spa capital of New Zealand, Hanmer is most famous for its thermal baths and spa (read more on p6), but you can seek out a range of treatments, from reiki and acupuncture to herbalism and pascha therapy (Google it). There's no excuse for taking some time out for you, to relax and enjoy this beautiful place.

4 Get to know the locals

A few minutes out of town you'll find some unusual Hanmer residents, namely Tex the Texan longhorn cow, George the snoring boar, Gary the goat who had his head stuck in the childrens' fort when we visited in early autumn, and wallabies Hop, Skip and Jump. We also met a Tibetan yak, three hungry donkeys, alpacas and llamas, ducks and chickens, emus, deer, a wallowing water buffalo, sheep, other cattle and horses, and rabbits, chinchillas and guinea pigs. Owners Kirsty and Tim move the animals into their enclosures each morning, and the whole park is clean for the littlies to roam around safely. There's also an on-site cafe, where you can pick up a couple of bags of pellets to feed the animals. Great fun for young and old alike.

5 Get on yer bike

Apart from the pools, Hanmer is most famous for its mountain bike and walking tracks in the surrounding Hanmer Forest Park and the nearby St James Conservation Area. You can hire a bike from the Hanmer Springs Adventure Centre in town, and within 10 minutes you'll be in among thousands of hectares of forest, part of which was first planted in 1901. Tracks are designed for all skill levels, and bike hire from the adventure centre costs from $25 for an hour.

- NZ Herald

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