Hanmer & Kaikōura

These neighbouring regions on the east coast of the South Island look like they're throwing out a giant thumbs up. Believe the borders — it's all good here.

Take one of the country's most scenic train rides or hop in the car and tour the Alpine Pacific Touring Route. Along the way you'll encounter mountains, vineyards and alpine settlements.

Canterbury's northernmost township, Kaikōura, is the hub of wildlife experiences, from whale watching to dolphin kayaking and albatross spotting. Coastal walkways are frequented by seals, while the main highway dishes up cultural artwork and fresh seafood experiences.

Head inland through Hurunui and the water-based experiences shift to thermal pools, hydroslides and jet boat rides in the little resort town of Hanmer Springs. Finish off with a tour through the renowned North Canterbury wine region.

See & Do

Relax in mineral hot springs, get up close to marine life and hop aboard one of the country's most scenic train journeys.

A scenic train journey

The Coastal Pacific is one of New Zealand's great rail journeys, passing as it does down the east coast of the South Island. This railway took decades to build. The pay-off is a marvellous route that takes in everything the South Island has to offer: ocean, mountains, vineyards and wildlife. The carriages have been designed specifically to cater to tourists. In one is a café, and there's an open-sided observation car from which to take photos unimpeded by window reflections. Read more

The journey takes you through a variety of landscapes. GREAT JOURNEYS OF NZ

The journey takes you through a variety of landscapes. GREAT JOURNEYS OF NZ

There's a huge selection of pools. BROOK SABIN

There's a huge selection of pools. BROOK SABIN

New Zealand's best hot springs escape

Driving into Hanmer almost feels as if you've been teleported to an idyllic little Swiss village. The little township sits right on a fault line and up between the cracks bubble the town's famed healing waters. Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools has come a long way from a little mud pond that first opened in 1883. Today there's a huge selection of pools, some with massage jets and waterfalls. After indulging in healing waters, head next door to The Spa and experience a full-body relaxation massage. Read more

For wildlife 'wow' moments

The Kaikōura Canyon, its walls up to 1200m high, would be an amazing sight, if it weren’t hidden under the sea. What we can marvel at, though, are the large numbers of many marine species, most notably whales, that are attracted by the nutrient-rich cold waters. Whale Watch Kaikōura’s Te Ao Mārama catamaran makes cruises out to see them comfortably accessible. As well as the resident sperm whales, you might see visiting humpback, pilot, blue and southern right whales. Read more

Whales are attracted by Kaikōura's nutrient-rich cold waters. WHALE WATCH KAIKOURA

Whales are attracted by Kaikōura's nutrient-rich cold waters. WHALE WATCH KAIKOURA

Jet up rapids and into the shallows. BROOK SABIN

Jet up rapids and into the shallows. BROOK SABIN

The most fun on water

After a day soaking in Hanmer, nothing will bring your senses back to life quite like jetting down a river at high speed, coming within centimetres of rocks. The jet boats scream down the river at 90 kilometres an hour, the captain swinging the boat between trees and boulders with almost superhuman precision. Hanmer Springs Attractions also take quad bike tours through alpine streams, forest and mud tracks. If you want even more adrenaline, try a bungy jump from the main bridge leading into Hanmer.

Insider tip: Time your walk to the Mt Fyffe lookout for sunrise an you'll be treated to incredible views across Kaikōura and the Pacific Ocean.
Stephen Heard, travel publishing coordinator

Kayaking with fur seals

Watch native fur seals hunt octopus for dinner as the sun sets over the snow-capped Seaward Kaikōura Range on a late afternoon tour with Kaikōura Kayaks. The cute, long-whiskered creatures are naturally curious and likely to dive under your kayak and generally show off as you explore waterways used by early Māori and whalers. Dusky dolphins, blue penguins and albatross are among the other wildlife that might decide to grace you with their presence.

A walkway for seal spotting

The Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway begins in the township and just under 12km later terminates in South Bay. The coastal path begins with a lung-busting climb up to a lookout over the ocean and seal colony but then continues south with just a series of gentle undulations. At the viewpoint above Whalers Bay seals bask and dolphin-dive in rock pools. There are steps down to the shore and at low tide it’s possible to walk back to the car park, but you need to be careful of the incoming tide and sleeping wildlife. Read more

Kaikōura highway features 20 cultural artworks. NEAT PLACES

Kaikōura highway features 20 cultural artworks. NEAT PLACES

Crayfish and culture

Post-earthquake, there has been the addition of over 20 roadside sites showcasing cultural artworks that tell the rich local Kaikōura history. The artworks are dotted along the 60km of road from Oaro to Clarence. It is well worth heading north to check out the sites Paparoa and Rākautara, as at the latter, you’ll discover Nin’s Bin. Other worthy stops include famed surf spots Mangamanu and Meatworks.

Kaikōura Museum is great for kids and adults alike. ANDREW SPENCER

Kaikōura Museum is great for kids and adults alike. ANDREW SPENCER

Museum magic for kids and adults

Kaikōura Museum is housed inside a giant craypot. Inside, the small space contains a skilful mix of colourful, hands-on areas and accessible, interesting storytelling. It’s all anchored in Kaikōura’s sea, mountains and human life. Look out for the fossils and fascinating facts about the spiky rock lobster that helped give the town its name. Cultural and social history also get a good run, from Māori settlement and taonga, to the mysterious nighttime sightings of airborne lights in late 1978, and the aftermath of the 2016 earthquake. Read more

THE ULTIMATE FAMILY GETAWAY

Short walks

Hanmer Springs is full of short walks that are perfect for young kids. The Fairy Door Walk is a stroller-friendly trail with more than 20 little houses and colourful doors. The Forest Amble Walk is filled with incredible wooden sculptures. Don’t forget to look up and find the bear in the tree. Conical Hill is beautiful at sunrise, or the Hanmer Waterfall Track is a lovely three-hour walk that is ideal for a half day. 

Hanmer Springs Forest Amble Walk. JENNIFER PARKES

Hanmer Springs Forest Amble Walk. JENNIFER PARKES

Kaikōura walks are all about that incredible coastline so you must take a walk on the beautiful Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway. The 50-minute walk between South Bay and Point Kean is the most exciting section, with seals to spot and amazing ocean views. If bush is more your jam, check out the short walk at the DOC campsite at Puhi Puhi Scenic Reserve.

Wildlife

Kaikōura is the best place in the country to see whales. The easiest way with kids is on a Wings Over Whales flight. There is no minimum age, so children of all ages can help spot whales from the air. Older children will just love swimming with dolphins on the Dolphin Encounter. There are hundreds of Dusky dolphins living in Kaikōura waters.  

Hanmer Animal Farm Park is the best spot for young kids to pat, feed and see a range of animals up close, including wallabies, alpaca, emu and deer. It is a lovely spot for a picnic with trampolines and plenty of space for the kids to run around. 

Kaikōura Dolphin Encounter. JENNIFER PARKES

Kaikōura Dolphin Encounter. JENNIFER PARKES

Outdoor adventures

Those up for some speed should head to Glenstrae Farm, 20 minutes south of Kaikōura. Older teens will jump at the chance to drive a quad bike, or there are options for the whole family to explore in a six-person terrain vehicle.

Hanmer Springs on the other hand is all about adrenaline, so make sure you visit Hanmer Springs Attractions. Kids from 3 years old can join the Waiau River jet boat experience. Or double up with a family white-water rafting trip in the gentle rapids.

Read more

Hidden Gems

Carve fresh powder at a family-run ski field, hit a scenic coastal cycle trail and take a llama on a picnic.

Did you say llama picnic?

A fair few unusual things happen in the thermal resort town of Hanmer Springs: people walk from their hotels in bathrobes or bikinis and it's not uncommon to see a horse and cart strolling down the main road. But you really don't expect to see a convoy of fluffy llamas going on a picnic. With Hanmer Llamas you don't ride the camelids, rather pack your lunch on their back and head into the hills for lunch. Hurunui is also home to the Big Ears Llama Ranch, with around 50 of the furry critters. Read more

Hurunui seems to be New Zealand's unofficial llama capital. BROOK SABIN

Hurunui seems to be New Zealand's unofficial llama capital. BROOK SABIN

A biking boomtown

Hanmer Springs is pretty hard to beat for a biking holiday, with 80km of trails right on the doorstep. The network expands and improves year on year thanks to a crew of locals focused on ensuring there are rides for all abilities. Whether you want to stay in the slow lane or keep progressing – it’s all here. The backdrop’s pretty gorgeous too, between Mt Isobel’s forested hillsides and the pretty rural plains ringed by ranges. Just over the pass at the back of town are the Molesworth and St James high country stations, offering cross-country cycling adventures on an epic scale. Read more

Picture-perfect Peters Valley on the St James Homestead Loop. LEE SLATER

Picture-perfect Peters Valley on the St James Homestead Loop. LEE SLATER

Kaikōura's brilliant day ride

This 48km loop is suitable for averagely fit riders or e-bikers. It loosely follows the perimeter of the plains, taking in coast, countryside and the banks of two rivers, the Hāpuku and Kowhai. Heading north from town along the Pacific coast, the trail turns inland following the Hāpuku River through coastal forest. It cuts a track across the foot of Mt Fyffe via a series of rural roads and tracks and the views stretch for miles across pretty farmland, the peninsula and out to sea. The full loop takes 3-4 hours at a leisurely pace. Read more

Rock ‘n’ roll Kaikōura

Bernie’s Diner is a shiny slice of retro-Americana on State Highway 1. It’s like stepping on to the Happy Days set, but with hi-vis roadworkers, instead of Richie Cunningham and The Fonz. The menu is true to the genre, sporting burgers, hot dogs, shakes and doughnuts. Through an unassuming back door is a huge garage packed with classic cars. Harmon’s Motor Museum is wall-to-wall, car-shaped eye-candy, and a happy hunting ground for petrol heads. Read more

Winter scenes at Mt Lyford skifield in North Canterbury. MT LYFORD ALPINE RESORT

Winter scenes at Mt Lyford skifield in North Canterbury. MT LYFORD ALPINE RESORT

The hidden alpine village

Mount Lyford looks like something out of a Christmas card when the weather plays ball. Despite its relatively small size, the family-run ski field has a big mountain vibe with the views to match. It features an excellent learners' area and top terrain for intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders. You’ll find a day lodge with a restaurant, chair lifts, groomed fields, a 450-metre vertical drop, and a terrain park with jumps, kickers and rails. And you can stay right on the mountain in insulated cabins. Read more

Insider tip: Island Hills Station hosts guests on its private 29.5km tramping trail, either self-guided or including transport, catering and accommodation.
Stephen Heard, travel publishing coordinator

Hanmer Springs Attractions' quad bike tour takes two action-packed hours. BROOK SABIN

Hanmer Springs Attractions' quad bike tour takes two action-packed hours. BROOK SABIN

There are plenty of seals to see as you make your way up the Kaikōura Coast. BROOK SABIN

There are plenty of seals to see as you make your way up the Kaikōura Coast. BROOK SABIN

Keep an eye out for marine life along the Kaikōura Coast. BROOK SABIN

Keep an eye out for marine life along the Kaikōura Coast. BROOK SABIN

The Conical Thrill joins the existing slide tower at Hanmer Springs. BROOK SABIN

The Conical Thrill joins the existing slide tower at Hanmer Springs. BROOK SABIN

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Hanmer Springs Attractions' quad bike tour takes two action-packed hours. BROOK SABIN

Hanmer Springs Attractions' quad bike tour takes two action-packed hours. BROOK SABIN

There are plenty of seals to see as you make your way up the Kaikōura Coast. BROOK SABIN

There are plenty of seals to see as you make your way up the Kaikōura Coast. BROOK SABIN

Keep an eye out for marine life along the Kaikōura Coast. BROOK SABIN

Keep an eye out for marine life along the Kaikōura Coast. BROOK SABIN

The Conical Thrill joins the existing slide tower at Hanmer Springs. BROOK SABIN

The Conical Thrill joins the existing slide tower at Hanmer Springs. BROOK SABIN

For art's sake

The bright-pink art deco facade of Mayfair Arts and Culture is a burst of colour and style on Kaikōura’s esplanade. Behind the restored 1934 facade sits a modern two-screen cinema, exhibition space and arts hub, built after the 2016 earthquake damaged the original building beyond repair. The centre is a venue for local creatives to showcase their work, from art to music, as well as touring performers. The upstairs gallery space features a rotating line-up of exhibitions, and opens out onto a balcony with an enviable view. Read more

Insider tip: Visit Iron Ridge Quarry Sculpture Park in Waipara Valley to see the work of artist Raymond Herber. Entry is $16 and free for kids.
Stephen Heard, travel publishing coordinator

Way back when

For another dose of history, pop in to Fyffe House, Kaikōura's first European building. It’s the last remnant of a pioneer whaling station, which Scotsman Robert Fyffe set up in 1842 to hunt tohorā (southern right whale). The building gives a glimpse into colonial life – and from the cottage garden, you can see the whalebones that make up the building’s foundations. That makes this site a wāhi tapu, and local Māori stories are told here in collaboration with local iwi. Read more

Canterbury's huge hydroslides

Almost five million dollars was spent giving Hanmer Springs a facelift in 2019, with a giant new slide and a series of cascading pools. The slide is called the Conical Thrill, and you ride down on a two-person tube. The first part of the slide snakes around a few bends, but the end is where it gets interesting. All of a sudden it gives way to a steep drop that gives you enough speed to launch up a near-vertical wall. It's fantastic fun. Read more

Slides are a popular attraction at Hanmer Springs. BROOK SABIN

Slides are a popular attraction at Hanmer Springs. BROOK SABIN

The Cathedral Cliffs are classic hoodoos. VISIT HURUNUI

The Cathedral Cliffs are classic hoodoos. VISIT HURUNUI

Who knew about the hoodoos?

Just a ten-minute drive from the cute and leafy town of Cheviot is a taster of the type of scenery you would more famously find in Utah’s Bryce Canyon. From the viewpoint right beside the road, the sculpted vertical ripples of the Cathedral Cliffs are a vision in creamy brown siltstone and sandstone. The fluted pillars would be a dramatic and unusual enough sight on their own. Add in the backdrop of blue ocean with bare purple headlands, and a glimpse of Gore Bay, and the whole picture is rewardingly spectacular. Read more

Is it a bird, is it a plane?

You’ll see up to 12 species of albatross on Kaikōura’s bucket-list Albatross Encounter tour. Rug up for the 2.5 hour boat trip 15 minutes off the coast and say g'day to one of the largest varieties of seabirds and pelagic bird life anywhere on the planet, from giant petrels and cape petrels to gulls, shearwaters, terns and, if you’re lucky, Hector’s dolphins. But it’s the albatross you’re really here to see - the biggest of all seabirds.

Eat & Drink

Dig into fresh kai moana on the roadside, go hunting for black truffle and whip around North Canterbury's wine region.

A unique place to dine

It might look like a trendy food truck, but Nin’s Bin is an institution. Sitting on the roadside 20 minutes north of Kaikōura, right by the sea, they’ve been catching, cooking and selling super-fresh crayfish here since 1977. Still owned by the same family, now in its third generation, not much has changed since the old days – apart from the prices. The crayfish are cooked just across the road and, while you can still revel in the delicious glory of crayfish pure and simple, there are fancier versions available now. It’s hard to beat sitting at a wooden table right on the rocky seashore and getting messy. Read more

Nin's Bin is a must visit. NEAT PLACES

Nin's Bin is a must visit. NEAT PLACES

Zephyr's crayfish ravioli is a local favourite. NEAT PLACES

Zephyr's crayfish ravioli is a local favourite. NEAT PLACES

Fine-dining kai moana

One of the finest restaurants in Kaikōura, Zephyr is the place to make your dinner reservation. The menu draws inspiration from French cuisine and focuses on meat, but vegetarians have been taken into consideration as well. A calm and relaxing spot to wind down after a big day. The crayfish ravioli is a must try. Read more

Hapuku Kitchen offers half-day and full-day cooking classes. HAPUKU KITCHEN/SUPPLIED

Hapuku Kitchen offers half-day and full-day cooking classes. HAPUKU KITCHEN/SUPPLIED

The rich food story of Kaikōura

Food is part of the whakapapa of Kaikōura: the name itself refers to eating (kai) crayfish (kōura), which thrive off the coast. The rich food story was what made Kaikōura the ideal spot for Fiona Read and Chris Sturgeon to start Hapuku Kitchen. From what’s on offer around the pair's 5ha property, Fiona designs a unique menu for each cooking class. Guests might forage in the organic garden or have the opportunity to plant something before getting their hands dirty and making genuine connections over good food. Read more

A top lunch spot

Slam Club is the destination to curb your hunger. Famous for its toasted sandwiches, the eatery takes toasted bread to another level. Take, for example, their wild venison sandwich. Filled with slow-cooked wild venison hunted from the nearby hills, fresh greens, caramelised onion, relish and aioli and served with duck fat roasted potatoes, this is a real treat. Read more

Eat fish and chips right by the water. NEAT PLACES

Eat fish and chips right by the water. NEAT PLACES

For beachside fish and chips

Premium fish and chip shop Coopers Catch is precisely that – premium. Try the local favourite, blue cod and chips, find a seat in the sun and enjoy fish and chips the way they should be done. You can also bring your self-caught fish here to be cooked to perfection for a small fee. Read more

Insider tip: Amberley Farmers' Market runs every Saturday morning from 9am until midday. Look out for Little Farm Goat Dairy's popular cheeses.
Stephen Heard, travel publishing coordinator

Brew Moon is a family-owned brewery and taproom. BROOK SABIN

Brew Moon is a family-owned brewery and taproom. BROOK SABIN

Small town brews

Tucked slightly off the main road in Amberley is one of Canterbury's best brew pubs, Brew Moon Brewing Company. On offer at the bar are more than 15 beers, including varieties with quirky names like Blondi Rescue blonde ale and Muscles from Brussels Belgian ale. Brew Moon has a wood-fired pizza oven for the perfect accompaniment to a cold brew. Take a seat at a table near the fire, or head outside to soak up the sun. Read more

Hunting for black gold

Waipara’s limestone country is the home of Kings Truffles. Established in 2009, the truffiere is now set across four different sites in North Canterbury with 6000 host trees helping to produce one of the most expensive delicacies in the world. Black Périgord truffles can be found growing around the network of new roots, and every year from June to August visitors can join a truffle hunt to help sniff them out with specially trained dogs. Experiences run across two hours or you can add on a package with Christchurch’s Garden City Helicopters for luxury transport and truffle lunch to match. Read more

Jax Lee of Kings Truffles and Freddy the Labrador. STEPHEN HEARD

Jax Lee of Kings Truffles and Freddy the Labrador. STEPHEN HEARD

New Zealand's best cafe view

Fresh crayfish, coffee and watching dolphins frolic in the distance are the unique drawcards for Kaikōura’s Karaka Lobster. It first opened as a coffee caravan for road workers following the 2016 earthquake before Ash Reader​, a fisherman with more than a decade of experience, jumped at the chance to have his own permanent site selling crayfish. The café’s large windows overlooking the Pacific Ocean means visitors can be sheltered from the wind and still observe some of the rarest coastline views the country has to offer. Read more

Fresh beer and minigolf

In Kaikōura, find your way to Emporium Brewing to taste some local craft beer and have a chat with the friendly team. Taste the range and purchase a number of different beers brewed right on these premises that you won’t come across at your local supermarket. Alongside the bar and brewery, these guys also run a minigolf course and a couple of escape rooms, should you feel up for another activity. Read more

Emporium has plenty of brews to choose from. NEAT PLACES

Emporium has plenty of brews to choose from. NEAT PLACES

Black Estate at sunset. BROOK SABIN

Black Estate at sunset. BROOK SABIN

A North Canterbury favourite

Black Estate is an organic, family-run winery with a cellar door, renowned restaurant, boutique wines and luxurious accommodation. Named one of the world’s top 100 wineries, it’s no surprise when you walk through their cellar door. The black, understated interior allows your eyes to focus on the view of the winery and hills beyond. Well known for their chardonnays and pinot noirs, wine lovers can find a favourite easily. Come for a tasting and stay for a long lunch, you won’t be sorry. Read more

Insider tip: The Waipara Valley is home to the Hurunui's burgeoning wine scene, garnering lots of attention for its superb pinot noir and riesling. The Waipara Valley Vineyard Trail links a number of wineries.
Brook Sabin, travel journalist

NZ'S LESSER-KNOWN WINE REGION

Greystone Wines. NEAT PLACES

Greystone Wines. NEAT PLACES

Greystone Wines & Muddy Water Wines

Greystone Wines in Waipara has exceptional options when it comes to wine. A certified organic site, they produce Greystone Wines alongside their Muddy Waters label. If you’re ready to stop by and see for yourself, pull up a chair and stay awhile. Allow yourself the luxury of lingering over a cheese platter and a couple of glasses, or go all out and enjoy the set tasting menu with paired wines.

Pegasus Bay. NEAT PLACES

Pegasus Bay. NEAT PLACES

Pegasus Bay

Since the 1970s, the family-owned and operated Pegasus Bay has produced a wide variety of whites and reds. In a picturesque, stately homestead nestled in the Waipara foothills, the location can make you feel a million miles away. Stroll through the gardens and sip on the terrace, or cosy up to the fireplace on the leather couches inside. They offer tastings during their peak season and even a locally sourced mini-deli, perfect for creating your own antipasto board from Canterbury produce. 

Georges Road Wines

For a truly unique New Zealand wine experience, look no further than the humble Georges Road Wines. Located in the South Bank section of North Canterbury, you’ll find the modern black corrugated iron building surrounded by vines. Inside, the hospitality flows along with the wines.
Head winemaker and owner Kirk Bray is usually pouring the wines himself, but if he’s out bottling you just may be served by his mum. Relish a craft-your-own antipasto platter along with your wine. 

The Boneline

The Boneline is a gorgeous vineyard located on Georges Road. The cellar door feels like walking into another world, with its stunning winery and gorgeous covered outdoor seating overlooking the vineyard. The vineyard offers a seated tasting, allowing patrons to sample the wide range of handpicked wines, which are as beautiful as the setting. Whether you need to walk off the wines or not, enjoy the vineyard walkway, a 45-minute amble through the vines, with 22 informative stop points along the way. 

Straight 8 Estate. NEAT PLACES

Straight 8 Estate. NEAT PLACES

Straight 8 Estate

In an unassuming location off State Highway 1 sits Straight 8 Estate, home of the casual cellar experience and Georgie the dog. Producing easy-drinking rosés, rieslings, chardonnays and pinot noirs in their red corrugated iron building, you won’t be disappointed when you make a stop here. Owned and run by James Shand and Mary Jamieson, they provide a relaxing — and entertaining — atmosphere with complimentary tastings. The wine prices will entice you to leave with more than one bottle, too, making this unique stop worth your while. 

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Stay

Look up at the night sky in a glass cabin, unwind in a little glamping village and hide away at a mountain retreat.

Sleep in an old ski basin

Sitting along the edge of an alpine lake in the heart of Mt Lyford Adventure Park, Lake Stella Mountain Retreat offers four tiny 10-square-metre huts fitted with everything you need and nothing you don't: a queen-sized bed, wood-burning fire and towels to dry off after a soak in the tub, with access to shared kitchen and bathroom facilities in the nearby chalet. Guests have three mountains to climb, a tree run during ski season and ice skating on the lake when conditions are right. Read more

PurePods are excellent for stargazing. BROOK SABIN

PurePods are excellent for stargazing. BROOK SABIN

Secret escapes for astrophiles

PurePods are an excellent place for stargazing. Five pods can be found in North Canterbury, offering completely different experiences. The Greystone option is tucked away above a winery in Waipara, while the Korimako PurePod is found near Greta Valley, with sweeping coastal views. PurePods are all about off-the-grid privacy; their exact location – in the middle of nowhere – is so secret, it's only disclosed after you book. The accommodation is seriously stylish: everything is glass, including the floor, bathroom and toilet. By night, all that's left to do is look up through the ceiling and enjoy the show. Read more

The little glamping village

There is nothing to do here but relax at Tawanui Farm Glamping. Near the rural town of Cheviot, up in the lush rolling coastal hills, is a little glamping village - and the setting is a celebration of everything New Zealand. It's a labour of significant love by the Loughnan family; they built it all in their spare time to diversify and open up their large sheep and deer farm. This retreat can cater for up to eight people in a single group. The camp has two Lotus Belle tents and a main hut with a kitchen and shower. Then there's a large hot tub out the front, overlooking the farm and mountains. Read more

The glamping village at Tawanui Farm has a cedar hot tub. BROOK SABIN

The glamping village at Tawanui Farm has a cedar hot tub. BROOK SABIN

Own a winery for a night

Not only is the wine sensational at Black Estate, but they have an award-winning restaurant that worships the truffle and a bed-and-breakfast attached, perfect if you've indulged a little too much to drive. By 5pm, everybody leaves the vineyard and you have the place to yourself – time to enjoy the sunset with a local drop in hand.

A secret slice of heaven

Matai Peak is tucked away in one of the most remote parts of Hurunui in Conway Flat. The accommodation was once a shepherd's hut, but has been meticulously renovated to become a rustic luxury escape. A spa pool is attached to the main hut, offering panoramic views by day. By night, it turns into a star spa. Up a small staircase is an outdoor bath, tucked away in the side of a hill. With the Kaikōura Ranges visible in the distance, it is undoubtedly one of the country's best bath views. And then there is the master bedroom, offering great views without even lifting your head. Read more

The view at Matai Peak changes constantly depending on the weather. BROOK SABIN

The view at Matai Peak changes constantly depending on the weather. BROOK SABIN

Hanmer Springs Hotel is surrounded by beautiful gardens. BROOK SABIN

Hanmer Springs Hotel is surrounded by beautiful gardens. BROOK SABIN

Stay in style

Hanmer's most famous hotel is also the most beautiful. Hanmer Springs Hotel has the age-old romance of a grand Victorian-era hotel - especially with its huge park-like garden, popular with guests eating cheese platters and a drinking a glass of wine. The hotel's pool is perfect for cooling off in the summer heat and a meal at the hotel's restaurant is also a must. Or let them pack you a picnic and head out into the forest to find your own slice of paradise. Read more

You get the vineyard to yourself if you stay at the onsite bed and breakfast. BROOK SABIN

You get the vineyard to yourself if you stay at the onsite bed and breakfast. BROOK SABIN

Walk to the thermal pools or use Hanmer Springs Hotel's onsite pool. BROOK SABIN

Walk to the thermal pools or use Hanmer Springs Hotel's onsite pool. BROOK SABIN

Matai Peak is perched near the top of the hill. BROOK SABIN

Matai Peak is perched near the top of the hill. BROOK SABIN

Korimako PurePod is surrounded by native bush. BROOK SABIN

Korimako PurePod is surrounded by native bush. BROOK SABIN

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You get the vineyard to yourself if you stay at the onsite bed and breakfast. BROOK SABIN

You get the vineyard to yourself if you stay at the onsite bed and breakfast. BROOK SABIN

Walk to the thermal pools or use Hanmer Springs Hotel's onsite pool. BROOK SABIN

Walk to the thermal pools or use Hanmer Springs Hotel's onsite pool. BROOK SABIN

Matai Peak is perched near the top of the hill. BROOK SABIN

Matai Peak is perched near the top of the hill. BROOK SABIN

Korimako PurePod is surrounded by native bush. BROOK SABIN

Korimako PurePod is surrounded by native bush. BROOK SABIN

Sponsored Picks 

Wine, wellness, wilderness and wildlife

Kaikōura Kayaks. SUPPLIED

A first timer's guide to the Alpine Pacific Touring Route.

Georges Road Wines. SUPPLIED

Kaikōura Kayaks. SUPPLIED

Kaikōura Kayaks. SUPPLIED

Georges Road Wines. SUPPLIED

Georges Road Wines. SUPPLIED

Visuals: Brook Sabin

Words: Brook Sabin, Stephen Heard, Siobhan Downes, Juliette Sivertsen, Lorna Thornber, Alan Granville, Pamela Wade, Sharon Stephenson, Sarah Bennett, Ashlyn Oswalt, Jill Worrall, Neat Places.

Editors: Stephen Heard, Trupti Biradar

Stuff Travel's Go To Guides are created in partnership with Tourism New Zealand