Hanmer Springs is New Zealand’s South Island’s wellness Mecca. If you’re looking for a place to relax combined with a sassy social scene, this is the place to go. There are a ton of excellent restaurant and combined with upscale accommodation, you’ll be feeling like Audrey Hepburn after she’s had her breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Hanging out with a mostly male crew at work, I was craving for some female chatter. I don’t do wellness weekends often, which is a pity because they always make me feel like the Buddha after.
My friend Jessy and me left our mud covered boots behind on the hops farms we spend the past months planting and driving tractors. We made sure the speakers were charged for the four hour road trip down the Lewis Pass.
These next two days would consist of a luxury stay at the Cheltenham house, a dinner in the Heritage Hotel, soaking in the hot pools and a massage.
It’s always a good idea to go for a wellness weekend before a big trip. Last week I slept on average six hours, not because I wanted to but that’s just what happened. Even though I have traveled so much in the past years, the stress that grows exponentially as departure dates close in, never goes away.
I have a soft spot for romantic kitsch of the roses in vases and chairs with curvy legs type. If any of you share this love of the traditional English teahouse style, the Cheltenham house is where you need to stay in Hanmer.
The rooms are filled with classic elegance in the form of antiques, sun rooms with sliding windows and miniature honey pots that accompanied our breakfast. It’s a family owned bed and breakfast and upon arrival we were greeted by Maree and Len, the owners.
The focus of the Cheltenham house is on feeling at home away from home. They offer free wine tasting, every evening between 6.30 and 7.30 so you can meet other guests for some very intelligent conversation. Topics range from boating to UV radiation and it’s all presented with a classy air that rapidly increases in volume after a few glasses.
The rooms have all the comforts needed for a wellness stay, including individual towels for all of your body parts and a range of toiletries infused with Manuka Honey. It can’t get more Kiwi than this.
Breakfast gets served in the privacy of your room. With a gourmet selection that range from home made granola to eggs benedict with homemade hollandaise sauce. The only thing missing is an English butler that happily strolls into your room to brush your clothing before you head to the hot pools.
In the evenings there is the snooker room where you can happily hang out with the other guests. I have never played snooker before but me and Jessy had first class lessons from Mark. Apparently Austin Texas ex-tv presenters make the best snooker teachers.
The Heritage Hotel has one of the best restaurants in Hanmer. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner for meat eaters, non-meat eaters and other funny people. The interior is grand, with high ceilings and matching floor to roof windows.
The menu is mouthwatering with plenty of options without being overbearing. There are cocktails served straight from the bar and you might bump into a newly wed during the weekend.
Give her a high five for her dress if you do.
The main reason why people visit this town are of course the thermal pools.
There are five wellness baths and one if you want to do laps. There are also very nice photographers who will kindly ask if you want to pose in your bikini beauty. Best time to go to the pools is during the week as it gets busy during the weekend.
My favorite pool was no doubt the sulphur pools. They have all sorts of mineral goodness in them like boron and calcium. Especially good if you’re suffering from midlife crisis, go and soak in the pools for a few minutes and think about whether you should buy that Ferrari or not.
Any wellness center that dresses up soap as muffins is my kind of spa. I did an Unearth Body Blitz massage where my skin was violently brushed into releasing toxins, after which I was massaged very gently until I became one with the massage chair. My skin finally got the hydration it needed after being sun-blasted for weeks on the farm.
It was so relaxing that my feet had trouble carrying me out of the Spa after my treatment. I felt revived and relaxed, sort of like lemon-lime jelly. Ready to tackle the next couple of days in Christchurch before my flight to Seoul.
Ready to snowboard the slopes on Friday!