Top 10 things to do in Hurunui

Therapeutic hot pools and outdoor adventure are just a couple of the best things to do in Hurunui.

The Hurunui region is a ultimate family friendly destination, with loads of things to do at any time of the year.

1. Enjoy a soak in the Hanmer Springs hot pools

Just 90 minutes drive from Christchurch you'll find Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa, a thermal water oasis with a fresh forest backdrop. Each pool has naturally heated thermal water and temperatures range from 34 - 42 degrees Celsius. You can relieve aches and pains in the AquaTherapy pools, rejuvenate in the private hot pools or relax in the many outdoor themed pools. Did we mention the largest waterslide in New Zealand? It's worth staying a few days. The two-day-pass, restaurant and spa treatments on site and accommodation nearby, means there is no need to rush. 

2. Sample award winning pinot noir, riesling and chardonnay

The Waipara area is home to over 90 vineyards and 30 cellar doors. 'Foodies' will enjoy the many gourmet food pairings, olive groves and nut farms in the area. Make sure to grab a ticket to the North Canterbury Food and Wine Festival(opens in new window) held every March. Whilst you're in Waipara check out the local lavendar fields, and visit the open-air Iron Ridge Quarry Sculpture Park - a reclaimed lime works, now jam-packed with native plants.

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3. Are you feeling adventurous?

Tick a few adventure activities off your bucket list with Hanmer Springs Attractions(opens in new window). Take an action packed jet boat trip on the wild Waiau River. Your skipper will expertly navigate through the narrow passes, white water rapids with 360 degree spins along the way. Or, do you fancy a bungy jump from 35-metres above the river? You can river-raft or canoe down tumbling rapids. Or, put your driving skills to the test by taking a quad bike or off-road buggy over rugged terrain. Can't decide? Do them all! 

4. Indulge in a 5-million star glamping experience

If you stay at Tawanui Farm(opens in new window), not far from Cheviot, you'll be spoilt with views of the Kaikoura Ranges and the Hurunui River. This unique glamping spot is remote and private yet only a couple of minutes drive to the coast. You're guaranteed to sleep well in your lotus belle tent after a soak in the outdoor hot tub. Stargazing here is easy and dramatic due to minimal light pollution and clear nights. Surround yourself with nature and bird song and wake up in paradise.

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5. Find treasures and trinkets with the kids on the Forest Amble walk

Keep the little ones entertained with the Forest Amble Walk. Search high and low for carved wooden creatures; a big friendly giant, an orangutan, a tuatara and more. Peak through fairy doors and count how many painted rocks you can find. The track is an easy 30 minute stroll into the Hanmer Heritage Forest. You'll find the entrance to the walk just off Jollies Pass Road, less than five minutes drive from Hanmer Springs village. And it's free for everyone!

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6. Mountain biking in Hurunui

An abundance of mountain biking trails weave their way through the Hanmer Springs area. No experience is needed, just make sure you do your research and find the track most suited to your skill level. The names of the advanced and expert tracks speak for themselves, with names such as 'Tombstone Trail', and 'Detox'. The 'Upper Dog Stream' track is one of the most popular tracks and a decent intermediate trail. Kids will have a blast on the family friendly 'Alligator Alley' track. 

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7. Take a break at the Hurunui Hotel

In 1860 the first beer was poured at the Hurunui Hotel(opens in new window) and it's been a popular rest stop ever since. The Hurunui Hotel holds the longest continuous liquor license in New Zealand. Homecooked pub meals and freshly baked cakes are served daily, and you're bound to strike up an interesting conversation with a friendly local at the bar. So, park up the campervan or pitch a tent and experience the hospitality of this little slice of history.

8. Meet some four legged locals

Hanmer Llamas is fun for the whole family. Lead your friendly llama through town for the day or trek into the hills for a night of camping with your llama (and your gear) in tow. Or, check out the Hanmer Springs Animal Park(opens in new window) which is just 15 minutes walk from the town centre. You can hand-feed the wallabies, see the inquisitive emus and pat the baby farm animals. Guest appearances from ponies means kids aged 3-5 can enjoy pony rides. There is plenty of space for picnics and light refreshments are available. The park is open year round and in all weather conditions. 

9. Walk to the top of Conical Hill and explore the Hanmer Forest

Walking to the top of Conical Hill is a must-do activity during your visit. Just one hour return walk through the Hanmer Forest to the top, where you will be greeted with views across the Hurunui district. There are many walking trails in the Hanmer Forest, ranging from easy family friendly, pram suitable walks right through to getting to the summit of Mount Isobel. 

10. Road-trip along the Alpine Pacific Touring Route

The Alpine Pacific Touring Route(opens in new window) is 450 kilometres long and spans from Kaikōura to Christchurch. Stopping at the small towns along the way is part of the charm. From Cheviot, Energy Jet can whisk you up the Hurunui River. You can surf the waves at Gore Bay and explore the nearby Cathedral Cliffs. Or, step back in time with a ride onboard a vintage steam train on the historic Weka Pass Railway. Visit Motunau Beach, a mecca for fishing, diving and seafood. Or, spend time in Amberley for boutique craft shops, garden tours and the golf course. Don't miss the Amberley Farmers Market(opens in new window) on Saturday mornings. 

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