Although Hanmer Springs is well away from the coast of New Zealand, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the water, even in an alpine resort!
For a start, Hanmer township sits in a wonderful basin created by the Waiau River, which brings plenty of opportunities for rafting, canoeing and jet-boating.
And then of course there are other streams and tributaries in the area suitable for the family to enjoy paddling and playing like the Hanmer River, the Hanmer Hot Pools and even our very own hot tubs!
If you are concerned about water quality and whether it is safe to swim in the region's rivers, on the whole it is safe and the rivers are considered swimmable. But we highly recommend you visit this website run by the Ministry for the Environment to check if there are any restrictions on swimming. If you click on the dots on the map, you can dig down into locations at different points on a river like the Waiau and see how they rate over time.
Waiau River, Hanmer Basin
The Waiau River rises in the Spenser Mountains and flows east to the Pacific Ocean. The main tributaries in its 330,000 ha catchment are the Lewis River, which rises at Lewis Pass where the main highway from Canterbury to the West Coast crosses the Main Divide, the Doubtful River, which rises at Amuri Pass, the Hope River, which rises at Hope Pass, and the Hanmer, Mason, and Leader Rivers.
The straight east-west portion of the courses of the Hope, Waiau, and Hanmer Rivers lies along the Hope Fault, a major geological feature of the South Island.
If you're feeling adventurous (and not afraid of getting wet), you might want to choose a rafting experience with one of the local providers. Inflatable rafts are designed for navigating white water rapids and deliver an exhilarating experience through the Waiau Gorge.
Rafting down a grade 2 river will make certain for an exciting and enjoyable experience. The river changes quickly – drift down calm, serene waters to rough and rocky rapids.
Experienced guides mean anyone can enjoy our Hanmer Springs Attractions rafting adventure. The rafts can hold up to 10 people including the guide, so this is perfect for families and groups. Be sure to bring your swim gear, a towel and plenty of sunscreen.
If you enjoy a more energetic experience on the water, check out the options for canoeing. Hanmer Attractions offers a canoe safari in their inflatable canoes. Check out the options here - note that a level of physical fitness is required. The full-day, fully guided river canoe safari includes a picnic lunch and a return by jetboat to your point of departure. Suitable for couples, families or groups.
Queenstown isn't the only alpine resort in the South Island where you can enjoy the adrenaline rush of jetboating down the rapids - you can do it right here in Hanmer as well.
Check out what Thrillseeker Adventures have to offer with their jetboating trips. Plenty of options, plus a free shuttle to pick you up from your accommodation here in Hanmer and bring you right back afterwards.
Definitely something to keep for the warmer months, the Waiau River and its tributaries are suitable for swimming nevertheless. Check the link mentioned above to check the part of the river you are intending to visit before you head there.
The Hanmer River is a river in the Hurunui District of New Zealand. It originates in the Hossack Saddle between the Hanmer Range and the Amuri Range, and flows south-west into the Waiau River about 8 kilometres south-west of Hanmer Springs.
Perfect for family picnics and paddling, this is a classic kiwi river - easy to enjoy for families and children of all ages. Water quality is excellent according the Min of Environment map, where it shows as blue.
Hot Pools and Hot Tubs
Historically, visitors have been attracted to Hanmer by the unique geography that resulted in natural hot springs bubbling up in the village. This natural feature was converted into a pool complex for bathers to benefit from the warm, mineral rich waters - and originally people would bathe naked, so men and women had different times of day when they could use the pools. These days, there's no naked bathing and everyone can enjoy the pools and the spa complex during opening hours.
We are located about a 10 minute walk from the pools, but of course if you would like to just wander a few metres from your accommodation, you can book in for a relaxing session in one of our onsite outdoor hot tubs. These are proving to be very popular with our guests, so we encourage you to book ahead. We know that over the winter months they will be an even more special experience - especially when there is snow falling!