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Hanmer Springs best hikes


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The picturesque spa hamlet of Hanmer Springs, with its natural thermal springs and crisp alpine air, has long attracted visitors since the 19th century. It’s a great base for keen hikers with stunning day walks in Hanmer Springs and the surrounding Hurunui district. We’ve rounded up the best short Hanmer walks.  

Best orientation walk (1-hour return) 

Arrived early? No worries, drop your bags at the Bella Vista check-in and head up Conical Hill for the best views of the village and Hurunui countryside. The gentle zig-zag trail winds up through a protected pine forest of Japanese cypress, giant fir and Atlantic cedar, brimming with birdlife. You’ll emerge at a lookout approximately 200m above the village. Perch at the top and enjoy a patchwork vista of Hanmer Springs and North Canterbury laid out before you. This Hanmer forest walk is one of the more popular things to do in Hanmer Springs.  

 

Top 3-in-1 circuit walk (2-hours return) 

This is one of the more diverse walks in Hanmer linking three well-groomed tracks into one full loop. The Upper Dog Stream Track, Jolliffe Saddle Track and Timberlands Trail Circuit are yours for the taking, in under two hours.   

The gentle Upper Dog Stream Track heads upstream through shady forest revealing excellent views of Mt Isobel at the picnic area. Beyond the Dog Stream footbridge, the zig-zag track becomes rougher as it climbs through native beech forest to intersect with the Jolliffe Saddle Track. A small clearing on the pass summit comes with a picnic table and splendid views of upper Dog Stream and Mount Isobel. Venturing over the saddle, the track passes through dense, sunlight-dappled exotic pine, before it crosses Jolliffe Road and joins the final sector, the easy, downhill Timberlands Trail. At the base, you’ll encounter a large grove of impressive Californian Redwood as you return back to Jollies Pass Rd, just a 7-minute drive from the Bella Vista Hanmer Springs. 

 

Best waterfall walk Hanmer Springs (half day) 

Once again, head for Jollies Pass Road to reach this trail. This fairy grotto-like track includes stairs, narrow cliff faces and watershed crossings so best suited to experienced hikers or families with teenagers. Once you reach the main waterfall, enjoy picture-perfect views of cascading water, the surrounding fern glade and green-tinged rocks lined with moss.  

Rather than returning the same way, hop on the clearly marked Spur Track, beside a smaller set of cascading falls.  This trail initially climbs up away from the stream, traversing an open meadow above the bush line, providing epic views of the Waiau Valley far below. You’ll then descend through native forest to reach the Mt Isobel Road and the Nature/Fir Trails, a direct shortcut back to the Waterfall Track carpark.  

The Bella Vista team will happily provide recommendations on the best walks in Hanmer Springs. Otherwise, pop into the Hanmer Springs i-SITE Visitor Centre for detailed trail maps on Hanmer walks.