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Hanmer Springs is just short of a two-hour drive from Christchurch and is popular among both tourists and Cantabrians keen for a romantic getaway. It’s like a miniature Queenstown, with access to a couple of ski fields, mountain biking trails and that festive spirit in the air, all year round.
Freedom Camping in Hanmer Springs
If you’re arriving in your campervan, you’ll see plenty of ‘No Freedom Camping’ signs around the town. Don’t feel discriminated against!
Like Queenstown, Hanmer Springs was one of the towns which were a hotbed for freedom camping.
Unfortunately, a few were irresponsible and ruined it for the many. So the council had to do something about it. Hence there are a lot of signs around the place.
There is a freedom campsite in Hanmer Springs, suitable for certified self-contained vehicles. The site is on Department of Conservation managed land, rather than council land.
The site is located just off Jollies Pass Road. Head past the sign for Hanmer Forest, and look for a small Pawson’s Road sign. It’s small and basic, with only a handful of spaces available.
It will pay to check if the site is open in advance, as the D.O.C. run trials from time to time. The easiest way is to check on your free CamperMate app!
Hanmer Springs Hot Pools
So, what is there to do in Hanmer? Hands down, the most popular activity is relaxing in the thermal pools, right in the middle of town. If you’re visiting, you have to try it.
It’s a little pricey at $22/adult but after a days skiing, mountain biking or hiking, the pinch doesn’t feel all that bad. There’s a bunch of pools to choose from ranging from 28 degrees up to about 38 or so degrees.
Getting there in the morning is recommended, as the hot pools get very busy from about 12pm. Since the pools open at 10 am, you can find a not-so-busy period.
You shouldn’t have an issue finding a park for your campervan in Hanmer Springs. It will probably be very busy directly outside the pools. If so, just head up Conical Hill Road until you find a park and walk back down into town. You shouldn’t have to walk for more than 3 or 4 minutes.
So, you’ve finished your dip in the hot pools before the lunchtime crowd and now you’re looking for somewhere to eat. There are plenty of options from cafes, takeaways, supermarket and my recommendation, the bakery about 100 metres up from the Four Square supermarket.
For a busy town, the prices were very reasonable. And, if you don’t mind standing in line for 10 minutes, definitely go for one of the bakery pies or rolls!
Conical Hill Walk
On the same road as the bakery (walking away from the town), you’ll find the Conical Hill walk. Because Hanmer Springs has an alpine climate, you need to take a jacket in case the temperature changes.
This is an easy 20-minute bush walk that meanders through the trees and ends with a nice view over the town. I’ll admit that I cheated and this photo is from half way up. So, just imagine a view twice as good as this!
Hanmer Springs is a great town, with lots of charm. You can easily have a great weekend either in winter or summer, campervan or self-drive.
Blog post by Adam Hutchinson