Hurunui – A Winter Wonderland

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It’s tempting to go to ground over the winter months; to stay at home in front of the logburner and head to bed early. But don’t miss out on exploring the Hurunui at what many say is one of its finest times of year.
Not only does the district often look like a winter wonderland with snowclad hills and forests, there is plenty to do – with walking and biking tracks, skiiing and iceskating and a number of excellent events that should not be missed.
And let’s not forget the ultimate winter experience – being snug in Hanmer Springs’ thermal pools while snow falls around you.
The Alpine Pacific Triangle touring route is the best way to explore the Hurunui and runs between Kaikoura, Hanmer Springs and Waipara, taking in everything from sensational coastlines – dotted with seals – to historic cob cottages along the way.
The region offers plenty of places to dine out. Fine diners will want to check out Hanmer Springs’ newest restaurant Eden or one of the wonderful winery restaurants in Waipara.
There are plenty of other options too – including family friendly restaurants and ethnic favourites.
A favourite winter spot is the log chalet village of Mt Lyford.
A short break here is a great way for whole families to unplug from technology, relax and reconnect. Many of the chalets have their own walks (the fresh air and birdsong is amazing) and log fires so you’ll be warm and snug even when the forest outside is covered with snow.
The Mt Lyford Ski Area is open for many of the winter months and is suited to all abilities. It has some lovely runs and excellent challenges in the Wild Ride Terrain Park.
One of the village’s best kept secrets is that the local tennis court is turned into an ice-skating rink in winter – you can hire skates there.
Hanmer Springs’ thermal pools are as restoring and relaxing as ever with their famous waters.
It’s now known that it takes 173 years for the earth to heat the thermal waters and infuse them with minerals so the water that is pumped out of the ground and into the pools today fell as rain in 1843. Pure goodness!
Another way to warm up in Hanmer Springs this winter is the Famous Hot Springs Salsa Annual Winter Fest.
It has Latin Dance Workshops and Salsa Parties and will attract people from all across the country to the Hanmer Springs Memorial Hall in July.
The best thing about the region is how easy it is to get there and enjoy all of the gems on offer.
So force yourself out of the house this winter – after all, it’s experiences that the best memories are made of.