Hanmer Springs is a small town in the Canterbury region of the South Island of New Zealand. The town is named after Thomas Hanmer, an owner of Hawkeswood Station near the Conway river during the 1850s.
The town is built around a popular hot spring which was discovered in the late 19th century. The hot springs were produced by the fractured rock bed along the Hanmer fault.
Hanmer Springs’ Queen Mary Hospital, the South Island’s leading rehabilitation centre for sufferers of drug addiction, was controversially closed in 2003. The premises were purchased by the New Zealand Department of Conservation in 2008.
In 2009, a 4600 square metre extension to the hot pools complex was proposed including “a second [16m high] water-slide, ice-skating rink and relocating and reconfiguring the freshwater pool.” During the consent process oppositions were made to it by, among others, the Queen Mary Reserve Trust concerning the expansions effect on noise levels and visual impact. Concerns were also raised by former hospital superintendent, Dr Robert Crawford, about the change the development might have on the village’s brand of “slow tourism and relaxation, not wet’n’wild.”
After a hearing from independent Commissioner Robert Batty, on Monday, 18 January 2010 the proposal was approved. “The freshwater pool, new buildings, water slide/super bowl and the aqua play/ ice skating area are all to be on land from the subdivision of Queen Mary Hospital land.”
Hanmer Springs is a popular tourist destination, and the town’s population swells during holidays. Bungy jumping, jet boating, mountain biking and bush walking are common tourist activities, and there is an airline service available for the viewing of the town’s alpine surroundings. A Visitor Information Centre next to the hot springs provides information about the area and booking facilities for transport. Trampers can obtain weather information, maps and guidance from the Department of Conservation. Budget accommodation includes a new Youth Hostel.
Two daily shuttle bus companies travel from Hanmer Springs to Christchurch and back. The town is the gateway to the Molesworth station, Lake Tennyson and Rainbow station. During summer months, gravel roads through the Rainbow Valley to St Arnaud and the Nelson Lakes National Park, and through the Molesworth Station to Blenheim, Picton, and the Marlborough region are frequented by travellers, four-wheel drivers, and guided tour groups. There are two skifields in the Hanmer Springs area: the Hanmer Springs Ski Area and Mount Lyford.