We planned a short break to the South Island, to take in the Black Clash cricket match and visit Christchurch for the first time. We haven’t visited before as, shortly after we arrived in New Zealand, they had a couple of great big earthquakes which basically wrecked the place. Eight years on, and they’re still wrangling about some of the buildings, but we decided that this would be a good opportunity to finally visit.
Another place we’ve been meaning to visit is Hanmer Springs. As the name implies, they have hot springs there. We booked ourselves into the aptly-named Hanmer Springs Retreat. We set out early from Wellington airport, then picked up a hire car and drove up into the mountains. It’s about a 90 minute drive. We grabbed some lunch in a pub in town before checking ourselves in, then went and found the pools where the springs are. They have a number of pools of different temperatures, some with bubbly jets, some still, and some sulphurous. We tried most of them, then, feeling refreshed and relaxed, headed back to our hotel before going out for pizza in the evening.
The next day we drove back to Christchurch, stopping along the way at Waipara Hills and Greystone wineries to taste some of the local produce, and purchase a couple of bottles. Waipara Hills is a well-known international brand, whereas Greystone is a bit more local, and the woman doing the tastings was able to give us some personal service and chat about the wines. She is a winemaker in her own right, although not for Greystone – she rents a plot and makes organic, biodynamic wines under her own label.
We stopped in Amberley at a café for lunch before completing our journey at the Bealey Plaza motel in Christchurch.