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Must do in Hanmer

Hanmer Springs is one of Canterbury’s most loved not-so-hidden gems. A short drive from Christchurch, North Canterbury and the upper South Island, the small-town punches above its weight in both beauty and activities. Whether you’re a seasoned local, regular visitor or first-time tripper – Metropol recommends some things you simply must do in this quaint alpine village.



Options bound for enjoying the great outdoors in Hanmer. There are also ample opportunities for tramping, walking and mountain biking to enjoy mother nature.

Stop into the iconic Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Resort to soak up the natural hot springs, where relaxation is teamed with fun for the whole family. Psst, there’s a day spa next door!

Visit the abundance of boutique shops in the village to find loved and local labels, arts and crafts, homewares, keepsakes and of course, artisan cuisine.

Pique your competitive streak with a hit of mini golf, or take to the water in a jet boat, try a horse trek, quad bike or Jeep tour, or, head to the local ski field, Amuri, just 17km away.

All this adventuring (or relaxing) is sure to build up your appetite, so make your way to one of the beautiful cafés, restaurants or gastro pubs lining the village centre. From delicious coffee to a hearty meal, all bases are covered.


North Canterbury adventures

Cruising north on a road trip, or just looking for something to do out of the city? Why not visit North Canterbury, home to artisan food and wine producers and spectacular natural attractions – there is everything you desire for a South Island adventure. Here are Metropol’s picks for adventure activities in the titillating landscapes.



If biking is your jam – or something you’ve been wanting to try – North Canterbury is the place for you! From the Airpark Canterbury BMX Track to the Hurunui Trail, St James Cycle Trail, Hanmer Trails and multi-day Rainbow Trail Heartland Ride, there is biking for beginners and those more experienced, too.

If you like to holiday under canvas (or are prepared to give it a shot, for a night or two), then Hurunui is the district for you. Pitch a tent in one the affordable privately-owned campgrounds like Alpine Adventure Holiday Park. Or, park up at a DoC site like those at Lake Taylor, Loch Katrine, or Deer Valley.

Home to the Waiau Gorge, Hurunui also boasts a “raft” (get it?) of river-centric activities to get the adrenaline pumping and test your comfort zone. Jet boating, white water rafting and canoeing promise some on-water action, while quad biking, 4WD and horse trekking deliver some excitement on shore.


Going north

Without a doubt, North Canterbury is largely known for its delectable wine and food yet its rich array of experiences deserves some time in the spotlight, too. Metropol has collated some of the region’s must-dos.




Travel back in time on the historic Weka Pass rural railway. Spanning over 12km, take in the stunning views as you’re being hauled by both vintage steam and diesel-electric locomotives. Make a family day of it with tickets for the Cottontail Express Easter Special still available.


Experience the infamous wineries from a new perspective; on wheels. The Waipara Valley Vineyard Trail, 14.5km and roughly one to
two hours in length, allows trekkers to get a glimpse of the producing vineyards such as Ataahua Wines, Greystone and Black Estate.


Forget the van Goghs and Picassos of the world, see where Aotearoa’s art started at the Weka Pass Walkway resplendent with Maori rock drawings. The 90-minute return walk starts at 20 Weka Pass Road and requires sturdy shoes for the steep terrain. But the end result will be worth it.


Summer in North Canterbury

In a summer where every trip out of the house feels like a special treat, make the most of our freedoms with a trip to North Canterbury. The scenic region is undoubtedly at its best in high summer, and just a short drive away from central Christchurch, how could you not stop in?



It would be negligent to start this article with anything other than a nod to this globally renowned Waipara wine region. Here, you’ll find 200km of prime viticulture territory – all set against the stunning backdrop of the Southern Alps. Stop at any number of wineries to enjoy a glass of the good stuff.

And while you’re there, you may as well tuck into the boutique gourmet cuisine offerings, too. Not only is North Canterbury home to beautiful wine-making, it is also teeming with artisan foodie delights. From Rangiora’s cafes and riverside bars to the winery restaurants – the eateries await any occasion.

Summer is not complete without checking out a new, or favourite, beach spot. And the North Canterbury coast has plenty to choose from. Admire the marine wildlife from Kaikoura, or visit Gore Bay or Motunau Beach, where you can admire the coastal cliffs while swimming in your pick of a dip in the sea or river.

Take a moment to soak it all in, while soaking in the hot pools at Hanmer. This is a favoured spot for Cantabs for a reason: Close enough to head for a night or two, but far enough to feel like an escape. Hanmer has a crowd-pleasing balance of relaxing activities, as well as nature walks, mountain biking and adventure activities.

The North Canterbury Wine and Food Festival on March 7 is a highlight on summer events calendars. A day of feasting, dancing and of course tasting spectacular wines, the festival is set under the oaks at Glenmark Domain with tickets starting at just $29. Soak in the atmosphere while sipping on some award-winning wines.


Holistic, healthy Hanmer

Simply escaping from the craziness of the city is holistically beneficial for us, so Hanmer must be a wellness bundle with bells on! Even driving through serene Waipara valley, on route to the heavenly haven, renews and relaxes all the senses.


We can’t take a pilgrimage to famed spa sanctuaries of the world just now, but Hanmer offers very comparable health and happiness benefits to lure us – world class in fact.

It’s the alpine air, therapeutic hot springs, peace and a woodland abundance of exotic trees such as Norwegian Spruce and black pine.

Simply breathing in that Christmas-like scent is beneficial. Add a spa treatment or therapeutic massage to unwind the stress clock, then nourish with healthy local cuisine.

Back to Roman times people bathed in mineral-rich thermal waters for wellness.

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa is born from rainwater seeped deep into the mountain rock, and drawn up to create rich therapeutic mineral pools. A soak will soothe aching bones and many an ailment.

The slightly higher altitude of 358m encourages beneficial deep breathing of fresh alpine air for those who stroll or cycle through this North Canterbury hot spot.

It has also been smoking and vaping-free since 2018.

Whether you’re heading for an overnight (or multiple) or a day trip – a soujourn to Hanmer could be the holistic, healthy escape you need to see out the year, or in the new one.


Crafters’ paradise: Mickey Raes

If you’ve been thinking on how to support local while getting out of the city for some well-deserved R and R, there are plenty of reasons to head to Hanmer Springs. The jewel in North Canterbury’s crown, Hanmer has long been the destination for adventure junkies and those craving an escape, but it seems it’s also becoming the place to go for the clever crafters amongst us.



Wendy Lamont has been operating Mickey Raes in the Boulder Point Precinct for almost three years but she has been turning her talented hand to all manner of exquisite handmade crafts for 30 years prior – so she knows her business!

There’s just about everything you could ask for at this crafters’ paradise; the store stocks everything from craft, sewing and knitting supplies, through to fabrics and haberdashery.

The delightful Diamond Dotz crafting kits are an increasingly popular way to unwind and Wendy has already stocked up on exquisite Christmas fabrics.


If you’ve been struggling to get hold of wool and fabrics due to Covid-19 shortages, you’ll find plenty of that here, too!

With giftware galore and Christmas just around the corner, you can start your gift shopping right here and enjoy free gift wrapping with purchase.

Pick up a gift for someone’s big 21st or grab your wedding accessories – from car ribbons and flower arrangements to horseshoes and garters.

Heading to the Hanmer Springs Fete on Friday 30 October? Why not make a day – or a weekend – of it; head to the Boulder Point Precinct, grab a bite to eat and shop to your hearts content.



Northern gems

Hurunui, north of Christchurch, is an oasis for explorers. From beaches to native and exotic bush, to historic villages and enticing wineries. Whether relaxation to you is an indulgent getaway packed with spas and gastronomical delights, or something more adrenaline-pumping and off the grid, here are Metropol’s picks for things to do whatever
your activity appetite.


Horse riding, rafting, bungy jumping jet boating, quad biking, BMX and 4WD-ing – there’s no shortage of local Hurunui businesses to support while you’re getting your thrills. Mainly centered near Hanmer Springs, these activities can be found scattered throughout Hurunui – from Waimakariri to Waipara.

If your idea of a getaway is to relax in style at a day spa, or amongst the vines with a glass of wine in hand, there are options abound in Hurunui, home to world class winery region, Waipara. Here, award-winning imbibements are grown and produced, alongside delicious food with a picturesque backdrop. Or, seek out the day spa next to Hanmer Springs Thermal Resort.

Or, maybe you’re more of an active relaxer who finds peace in keeping busy. If that’s the case, North Canterbury’s plethora of hiking and biking trails are calling your name. There’s a number of walkable mountains like Mt Thomas and Mt Grey, as well as the glut of options in Hanmer, as mentioned on page 37.


Timber triumph: Loburn Sawmill Ltd

Timber; its versatility is unsurpassed and it is tasked with everything from keeping us warm in winter to forming the very framework from which we build our homes.


But our love of timber is based on so much more than its aesthetic value. Of course it looks good, but it’s also strong, long-lasting, durable and easy to work with.

And, as a natural, renewable building material, it gets the sustainability tick as well.

Supplying Macrocarpa, Oregon, Larch and other minor species of timber, Loburn Sawmill is your local home for milled timber, firewood and gardening supplies, located at the end of Fletchers Road in Loburn, North Canterbury.

Established in 2016 and run by fourth generation sawmiller, Matt Stuart, alongside his local team, the company specialises in beams, stress graded timber and landscaping supplies, with dry firewood also available.

More recently, portable Larch cabins have proven a popular drawcard for the local business. Suitable for offices, sleepouts, additional bedrooms and Air BnBs (with shower and toilet blocks also available), they look as good as they perform. Strong and durable, the quality solid timber cabins are manufactured at the sawmill at 32 Fletchers Road, Loburn.

Loburn Sawmill takes pride in supplying quality products in bulk, but also in its ability and drive to complete custom and one-off jobs for clients.

Visit the website to check out the range of products and order firewood. Phone (03) 312 8963 or email


Walk of Art

Art in a Garden presents the outdoor exhibition Sculpture North Canterbury at Pegasus Bay Winery this spring. Art lovers can enjoy a glass (or two) of wine as they take in the work of some of New Zealand’s most talented sculptors – including Ben Foster, Matthew Williams, and Hannah Kidd – in the lush garden setting.


Ben Foster with Silver Figure


Commencing October 17 and running for six-weeks; this will be the event’s third year at the winery and is free to the public.

An exclusive preview launch party is happening Friday October 16 and the best part?

Gold Dipped Cone by Hannah Kidd

Tickets are still available! For a modest $40, guests are treated to the exhibition, a selection of canapés, live music, and performance art.

And if you are really feeling a connection to a piece, all of the art is for sale during the six-weeks.

Shadow by Ben Foster

If this sounds like something you just can’t wait to attend, tickets are only available from Eventfinda. Visit the Pegasus Bay Winery website for more details.


Seeing the northern sights

Just passing through or navigating to a destination, there’s many a sight to see as you head north from Christchurch. Here’s Metropol’s picks of places to check out in North Canterbury.

Gore Bay


The heart of the region’s food and wine scene. Stop off at one of the award-winning wineries to sample the local delicacies amongst the region’s rolling hills and romantic vineyards.

You won’t regret diverting from SH1 for 8km to see the breathtaking Cathedral Cliffs (pictured) at this popular surf beach. There’s accommodation, campgrounds and public amenities if you’d like to stay awhile.

There’s nothing more grounding than getting out in nature, and this 78,000-hectare reserve near Hamner Springs offers just that. Hike, mountain bike, horse ride, ski, hunt or fish amongst glaciated valleys, streams, wetlands, lakes and picturesque tarns.

If you’re a hunter-gatherer type in the mood for some kaimoana, this coastal settlement is beckoning. A popular blue cod fishing spot, experienced divers can try their luck – and craft – at nabbing a crayfish, or simply check out the abundant marine life.

Home to an excellent ski field, Mt Lyford’s log cabin village is a quaint place to relax after an adrenaline-filled day on the slopes. Put your feet up at the Mt Lyford Lodge and enjoy some local hospitality in the restaurant and bar.