Day 16: Hanmer Springs
11 January 2010
2450km - map

The day started dry and warm but everywhere was still a little squishy underfoot from the previous night's rain. We packed up the camper and headed into the town so Sarah could buy a pair of walking shoes (Pair of shoes No.3) so we could go hiking in comfort. We took a walk up a hill called Conical Peak, some 150m above the town which took a good hour on the way up and less than 45 minutes on the way down. It was well worth it for the views of the town and surrounding valley from the summit. We'd worked up quite an appetite so found a place to eat in the town - I had a steak sandwich with mushroom sauce and chips and Sarah had a grilled chicken sandwich with camembert, also with chips. Both were huge portions and we felt suitably stuffed afterwards.

After a short rest in the van to let our food go down and to let the rain pass we ventured to the town's thermal spa and pools. This was an interesting experience, several pools at varying temperatures from 29°C to 41°C, all heated from deep underground and with it the smell of rotten eggs although the pools which were filtered were much more bearable than the really hot, fresh-out-of-the-ground-water pools. They also had varying amounts of invigorating and health-giving salts and negative ions - each pool had a list by it of what chemicals you were absorbing from that particular pool. Sulphur, Magnesium, potassium, chlorides and sulphates, they were all there - or you could say it was like getting into a bath where lots of people had farted!

Nevertheless it was a nice place, the waterslide in complete darkness was quite good too. It seemed to be frequented by the local youngsters (it being the summer holidays here) enjoying the slides and swimming pools but also by the much older generations just sitting in the pools soaking up the health-giving aspects of it all. We had been in the pools about an hour when it started to rain again which isn't so much of a problem in an outdoor pool in this climate but it did mean our towels started to get wet prematurely so shortly after we left the pools and got on the road again.

We opted for a free site not too far down the road but once we got there we found it too had been closed by the local authorities and so we carried on to the coast road where we found a roadside rest area with a german couple already parked up in their campervan. They were on a similar holiday to us but were travelling in the other direction, starting in the south island and heading north. We barbequed the remaining burgers for dinner and settled down to another night at the side of a main road. Thankfully the roads are quiet during the day so at night they're almost silent. Mosquitos however are a different matter...

Walking up Conical Peak
The view from Conical Peak
One of the signs around the thermal spa pools
Hanmer Springs Thermal Spa Pools