In our recent post about Christchurch, we promised to share 2 great day trips – both involve a jaunt in the country. Although we drove to both towns, please be assured that there are regular tours and public transport options available.
JAUNT No 1 to Hanmer Springs takes about 2 hours and winds through all the usual beautiful Kiwi scenery and farmland… Even the cattle co-operated in our photo shoot!
“All looking this way, please.”
This little town 130 kms northwest of Christchurch has been famous for its thermal waters for many years. I can thoroughly recommend the Thermal Pools and Spa as a great spot to relax. I gravitated straight to the rock pools and experienced all the varying degrees of luxurious heat. I was fascinated to learn that World War 1 veterans suffering from mental and nervous disorders were sent here for treatment and often made a full recovery – proof perhaps of the soothing effects of water and warmth?
We visited in November, so no skiing for us. However other local activities include jet boating, mountain biking, horse riding and of course the ubiquitous Kiwi bungy jumping. (No, we didn’t do that – my sister was a surgical nurse and I’ve heard quite enough about potential detached retinas to put me off the idea!)
Check out this lovely ‘townscape’ from the Hanmer Accommodation website.
Locals that we spoke with said that simply walking around the town and nearby forest trails is their particular joy. All in all, in spite of being such a popular tourist destination, Hanmer Springs has a happy and laid-back vibe with plenty of cafes and bars to enjoy lunch and/or a glass of wine.
JAUNT No. 2 is to Akaroa, about 1.5 hours south of Christchurch, with picture perfect historic cottages and all French street names. Why?! Read about the French legacy.
It is quite busy when cruise ships are at anchor in the bay, as their normal spot at Lyttleton Harbour was badly damaged during the Christchurch earthquakes. However there is a great choice of places to enjoy lunch – in fact, I can taste that seafood chowder and the chilled Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc right now!
Wandering the streets to walk off lunch was simply a photographer’s dream.
We were sad that we just missed the French Fest, held annually to celebrate the anniversary of the settlement of Akaroa. Definitely must try to get back one October…
Do let us know your favourite small towns in New Zealand!