Hanmer Springs

Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
Trip End May 21, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Friday, November 12, 2010

With the promise of deep relaxation amongst alpine scenery, we headed two hours inland to the resort town of Hanmer Springs. Again we passed spectacular scenery; this seems to be a typical feature of any drive in New Zealand. We marvelled at the pure blue streams on the valley bed which were picturesquely surrounded by bright yellow flowers, alpine forest and the impressive snow-capped peaks that somehow you never really get used to seeing.

We arrived in Hanmer Springs and parked up outside the spa entrance. We paid our entry fee and got changed and eagerly awaited the thermal waters in what was dubbed as a 'luxurious' spa. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that makes the presence and noise of building works not conducive to a relaxing environment but there you have it. Pools were closed and blocked off by attractive orange mesh fencing, signs apologising for our inconvenience plastered the walls and the sound of tiles being cut pervaded the atmosphere. Still we tried to make the best of it and tilted our heads upwards to avoid the immediate view and instead try to glimpse the trees and mountains that were unfortunately shrouded in cloud. Pools of varying degrees in temperature, from 36 to 41 soon began to work their magic and we began to relax. Some stress was experienced when we discovered that, in true New Zealand style, we had to pay extra fees for a sauna, then more for a steam room, and pay separately for each water slide. Our Englishness caused us to inwardly rebel against this so we found the pool the furthest away from the orange fencing and stayed there for a long time.

We started chatting to the kiwi photographer when he came round and took snaps of us on this memorable occasion. This turned out well as it led to us being invited back to his house and us copying lots of his films on to our laptop. We were also invited, with him and his three flatmates, to play a game of Argentinean gin. It seems that instead of suits the Argentineans have coins, sticks, swords and cudgels on their playing cards. This took a little while to get used to but not that long as I beat everyone. The kiwi guy that taught me how to play said playfully that it was typical of the English- ‘you teach the colonisers something and then they beat you at it.’

We slept in our campervan on their drive which meant another free night of accommodation which is always good. The photographer had also brought home our picture from Hanmer Springs for us to keep anyway despite us not buying it. We couldn’t believe the kindness of him and his friends. It really made the whole visit to Hanmer Springs alot more memorable. This, combined with the beautiful walk we did the next day up the hill, made the small resort town a lovely place to visit. It is always interesting when you plan one thing and have with it certain expectations and then find that what wasn’t planned was better anyway. The unexpected is often more memorable when travelling.
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