Back in ’07 I went on a road trip with my fiancee (now leveled up to wife) and 2 close friends. It was a 2-week trip so naturally we had to trim our itinerary to allow us to see as much as possible without hitting road fatigue (in the end we clocked 4,500km… that’s 2,800mi for you non-metric types).
One of the things I was sad to leave off our list that time was Hanmer Springs. Wife is real keen on hot springs and I fancy the idea of dipping into a hot pool surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Maybe some snow-white hot pool monkeys… or is that Japan? Anyway…
So it was to our delight that the South Island got snowed in on Tuesday (sorry to the locals who had to put up with it). We arrived on Wednesday to clear weather. Road conditions were perfect, but the snow stayed on the mountains. We couldn’t wish for better conditions to fulfill our hot pool fantasies! Even daughter was more sedated than normal, probably getting over her excitements with plane take-off and landing. This is the kind of view we were treated with on our first day in Canterbury… pretty awesome right?
The coupon queen that she is, wife reminded me that the AA 101 Things To Do website has Hanmer Springs vouchers, so like the obedient husband I am I fished it out on my phone and showed it to the elderly lady behind the counter in a small town. This sweet deal allowed us 30 mins on the private pool in addition to the standard public pool use (which is technically unlimited, but in reality subject to daughter getting tired/grumpy/hungry).
Hanmer Springs Hot Pools is very modern and polished. There are many pools to choose from, with some aquatherapy areas (I think that means warm water spouting off a big hose to kind of massage your back), mineral waters, and the hot hexagonal pool (where we stayed most of the time). Here’s a snapshot of the kind of scenery we found ourselves in.
Personally I found the waters could have been hotter (max 40degC… that’s 104degF to you non-metric types) whilst I preferred maybe 41-42degC. Also, having been to many hot pools in my younger and more vulnerable years, I now have a thing for more rustic environments (I’m a big fan of the Opal Springs in Matamata for example where the private pool is surrounded by bamboo trees). I guess I’m being kind of picky, and being rustic can so easily turn to being worn-down if not maintained properly. And maybe I secretly hoped to find some snow-white hot pool monkeys enjoying aquatherapy.
Having sufficiently bathed and lunched, we checked out the town which is appropriately geared for tourism (there’s plenty of skiing to be had around here). It’s a nice small town feel as can be seen below.
Our afternoon walk took us to the Queen Mary Hospital Historic Reserve. It’s a handful of a name to describe an old building where WW1 vets, and later, alcoholics, go for rehabilitation from shell-shocks, and alcohol addiction, respectively. I was mostly excited by the abundance of funky mushrooms to take photos of, while wife kind of patiently waits. Here’s one for your enjoyment. Have a mushroom!