Sunday, 20 July 2014

Hi-de-Hi Hanmer

We stayed the first three nights at NZMCA’s Hanmer Park which is located about 6kms before the village and very near the Waiau River. The first night we parked near the road as there were a few others on the other side of the park. I was thinking “sleepy little resort, not much traffic”. Wrong. The rumbling started at about 4:30am, delivery trucks & cars zooming pass on the road just above our heads!

After everyone had left the next day we moved over to the other side but not just up against the bank as the others had parked, up on the old road which proved to be an ideal spot for us as it was nice and level and we had a grandstand view of the park and traffic coming & going. After 3 nights (the maximum allowed) we moved on to the Pines Holiday Park which was very handy to the village and just opposite Jacks Pass.

The one way 135 year old historic Ferry Bridge, over the Waiau River, is the gateway to the Hanmer Basin. Thrillseekers Adventures run a number of activities off, under & around the bridge; bungy jumping (there’s a jumping platform in the centre on the far side), jet boat rides up the river (you can see a jet boat tied up beneath the bridge). There’s also rafting, quad bikes & paintball available.

I mentioned in the previous post that we were in Hanmer so David could celebrate a special birthday, he was especially looking forward to a massage. Unfortunately we overlooked the fact that it was the school holidays and Hanmer was a very busy little village with many families enjoying a holiday in the alpine resort. The cafes & restaurants were full to overflowing, the thermal hot pools had a queue out the door everytime we passed by, there were a mass of kids & adults at the two Putt Putt Golf courses in town, every second car had bikes attached to the towbar or riding on the roof. And of course along with all the holidaying families there were the regular tourists & their motorhomes crowding the streets. It was a very hyped up little place.

Added to the mix were these cycles, the Village Cruisers were everywhere, pedalling around town, down the forest roads and passing by the camp site at Jacks Pass. I think they were quite hard work to pedal especially when there was just one adult, the kids had stopped pedalling after a few minutes. I took these photos all within about 15 minutes as I waited on a park bench for my phone to update at a telecom hotspot. 

Initially David was going to have a massage at The Spa, part of the thermal pool complex but we found a couple of others places that also did massages and he selected one that he was happy with and booked with them. We were also going to have a swim in the hot pools at some stage but after seeing how many people (and children) were filing into the pools we decided we might just have a swim in a private pool. That was until I saw it was going to cost $60 for 30 minutes! I’d rather find our own natural hot pool on the side of the road than pay that much for a swim! There are a couple near the road through Lewis Pass but they’ll have to wait as we were headed in the other direction when we left Hanmer.

On David’s birthday, which was on a beautiful sunny Sunday, we walked into town and had a lovely brunch at the Powerhouse Cafe, one of the many busy cafes in the village. Every available table inside & outside every cafe was taken with families enjoying the winter sunshine.
We then had a lovely birthday dinner at Restaurant No. 31, one of the few fine dining restaurants in the village and one without a child in sight! No. 31 reminded us of our favourite restaurant back in Tauranga, Somerset Cottage.

One morning during our stay I took myself off on a walking tour of the historic buildings around Hanmer Springs and in particular through the hospital grounds that surround the thermal pool complex. Along with the fresh mountain air, the thermal springs were part of the therapeutic environment which helped patients recover.

Click on the photo to enlarge if you wish to read the information boards.
The Chisholm Ward for “female patients suffering from functional nervous diseases”, later it became a treatment centre of drug & alcohol dependency.

Next door was the Nurses Hostel, a large imposing building with a very small front door beside which the sign read “Out of Bounds to Clients". I can understand that. There could be quite an emotional attachment from patients towards the nurses especially in the state of mind that some would have.

The Soldiers Block- a convalescent home for the treatment of shell-shocked servicemen.

This building is of significant historical value, as one of only two similar hospital buildings of this design, it is the only one that remains on it's original site.

And as I wandered on further through the large park like grounds I came across this building which looks like another type of dormitory hospital block, but it wasn’t until I walked around to the back that I saw a sign saying “Private Property, No Entry” It looked like a military building of some sort which has been abandoned. I’ve been unable to find out any information about it so far. 

In the centre of the village is The Heritage Hotel which is located in a beautiful Spanish-style building that was originally built in the 1930s as a lodge catering to the increasing numbers of tourists to Hanmer Springs “taking the waters”.

While David was having his massage I visited the Hanmer Forest Park which was just down the road (everything is just down the road in Hanmer) where there are numerous bike trails. When we came over Jollies Pass the other day I had spotted this unusual stand of conifers with their trunks all on a lean.

I did a few in-camera abstract shots too.

These could be the Ents from the LOTR film. David offered to put his black beanie on and  peep around the various trunks. I could have done multiple shots and merged them. But we didn’t get around to it.

So that was Hanmer, we did have a lovely time but next time we’ll make sure we don’t coincide our visit with the busy school holidays. We left Hanmer Springs after a very cold night, snow had settled on the surrounding mountains and on the grass around our camp site. And as we pulled out heading for Kaikoura, it started to snow again. 


  1. I like the curved trees. surprised you didn't spot the Hanmer fish and chip cart advertising Fish & Chips and Massage?
    As usual entertaining & informative.

    1. I think I saw that cart Jimu, is it usually parked at the intersection by the pools? It was closed most of the time when we went past although I saw it open when I was updating my phone apps. I didn't see the massage sign though.

  2. Great to see the old hospital buildings.

    1. And such a pity that they've been abandoned, I'm sure it won't be long before they get vandalised. The grounds are so large & I was the only one walking through on a lovely sunny holiday weekend.


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