It’s not a real day in Hanmer Springs until you’ve visited the hot pools. That was true for my visit; I was in town for two days and I went to the pools twice. I was very much looking forward to my second visit after jumping into the ice cold Waiau River that morning, plus, I wanted to be able to explore the complex a bit more in the daylight to see what it had to offer (seeing as I’d only made it to two of the pools on my previous visit).
Surprisingly, even though there were a lot more people at the pools than the previous evening, the changing rooms were less crowded. This was probably a temporary anomaly, but I made the most of it and quickly headed back to the pools. The only problem was my bag; I was pretty comfortable just leaving it poolside but would have preferred to lock it up so I wasn’t constantly checking on it. However, the lockers required $2 coins, which I didn’t have, so I put my bag on a seat with everyone else’s bags near the pool I had chosen.
I tried out a variety of different pools, from the rock pools to the aquatherapy pools to the hexagonal pools. I think the aquatherapy pools were my favourite because they were sort of like hot tubs, only with hot spring water. The hexagonal pools were 38-40C, which was a bit too much to handle after a while. I much preferred the 35-36C range in many of the other pools! The rock pools were fun because they are like small streams that lead between larger pools; the only problem is that a lot of couples seem to mistake this for privacy so it can occasionally lead to awkward moments when you appear around the corner.
It’s interesting to see how different some destinations can be between day and night. In the case of Hanmer Springs’ thermal pools, the difference is marked. By 7 or 8pm, the pools are still open but many of the kids, whose screams from the waterslides carry across the pools complex by day, have been put to bed. It seems a much less frantic place than during the day, and I found it to be much more calming.
There are definitely up sides to going during the day. For one, while the water is so nice to slip into on a cold night, it’s much easier to get out of the pools during the day when there is still a bit of heat in the air! This can be applied to the waterslides as well. My two-day pass actually gave me access to the waterslides, but every time I considered it, I decided against it as soon as I got out of the pool. Walking to the top of the tower and standing in line while that cold just didn’t seem like much fun!
One useful thing to note — which I unfortunately didn’t – is that you need to get a return pass if you want to leave the pools, and I believe this is only a 10 minute pass to let you get things out of your car. I mistakenly thought that because they gave me a wrist band, I could come and go as I pleased during the day! Luckily they let me in without the return pass one evening just so I could take a few photos with my non-waterproof camera.
If you’re going to Hanmer Springs, it’s very likely that you have a visit to the hot springs in mind. Do I recommend going to the springs during the day or night? Well, if you go in summer, you’ll have to go during the day because the sun is up so late. At other times of year, I don’t recommend one over the other — I think that you should get a two-day pass and try them both for yourself!
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa is located at 42 Amuri Avenue, Hanmer Springs. The pools are open from 10am-9pm daily; the spa is open from 10am-7pm daily.