New Zealand

Travel Update: Hanmer Springs & Christchurch

September 9, 2015

As soon as I bought a car I was itching to explore New Zealand. I really haven’t cared about my destination because the scenery is too amazing – I could drive forever. I’ve almost had about a zillion accidents because I’m distracted by the view and bouncing up and down in my seat. On my first weekend exploring I hit a couple of cones and made my bumper come off a bit……oops.

I really need to get car insurance (it’s optional here).

This weekend I decided to head down to Hanmer Springs and Christchurch. Google Maps told me it should take about 5 hours to get to Christchurch but it takes me much longer to go anywhere because I have to stop every 5-10 minutes to look at the scenery. One minute I’m looking at gorgeous, green rolling hills and the next I’m driving on the edge of a cliff next to the ocean. Unbelievable.


I took highways down the middle of the South Island, which took me to Hanmer Springs. It’s a charming little town – it reminded me of Stars Hollow or Tree Hill (both fictional towns from great TV shows).

I stayed at Hanmer Backpackers and I was so impressed. It was a small backpackers with a cozy log cabin feel and so clean. I met a girl named Christine from Germany and a boy named Tanguy from France. We walked down the block for “a drink” (famous last words, right?) at O’Flynns Irish Pub. I ended up meeting a group of boys that all lived in Nelson. They were dressed head-to-toe in ridiculous denim outfits and kept showing off their wicked dance moves. I hung out with them for a while and made my way home by midnight. Who am I??

In the morning I visited the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools which, after a night of drinking, was just what I needed. The thermal pools use completely natural water and are rich in minerals. There were too many children though…..they should be kept away in their own waterslide arena.


Around lunchtime I made my way to Christchurch. Again, having to stop every so often to soak in the scenery and say hi to some sheep.

On February 22, 2011 Christchurch was damaged by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake. I had heard how much construction was still going on but it was something you have to see to believe. Almost 6 years later, there was still so much work to be done but the city had an incredibly hopeful vibe. There were many initiatives going on throughout the city including artwork and growing new plants to be planted when construction was done.

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I stayed at Jailhouse Accommodation in Christchurch and it was such a cool experience! They turned a historic jail into a backpackers and preserved a couple of the rooms with original drawings and furniture. I stayed here for two nights.

I spent the first night driving around town and came across information on a Lord of the Rings tour to Edoras – capital of Rohan. It was after 5 pm so I was freaking out that I missed the deadline to book. I tried to book online but it wouldn’t let me so I called the company and got the last spot! I was so excited that I went to bed early to make sure I was awake and fresh for the big day.


My tour guide, Brent, had lived in Christchurch his entire life and could tell you anything about the city. He took us up to Edoras, also known as Mt Sunday. It’s funny because in the picture below it looks like I’m way up high, but when you look at Edoras from afar, it’s dwarfed by the ginormous mountains around it. It just looks like a little hill. Brent showed us a bunch of pictures of movie scenes to refresh our memory on what it looked like with the Golden Hall and computer-generated village. For lunch we had sandwiches and champagne next to a water stream. It was absolutely incredible.

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The next day I headed back home, but this time along the east coast. I knew this route would bring me near the ocean but I had no idea what was in store for me. I came around a corner and was blown away by teal blue water in the distance. The road was right along the coast, I mean it’s basically on the edge of a cliff for a while. I think I stopped about seven times along the coast to look at the water. I’ve been here two months and this place still continues to amaze me.

It took me around 7 hours to drive home so, of course, I was exhausted. I didn’t hit any cones on this trip so that’s a plus!

I’m looking at heading to Wellington next so stay tuned!

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  • Reply Savanna Handevidt September 30, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Did you travel with anyone on these trips? Or did you go alone and just meet people? Love the pictures!!

    • Reply Haley Johnson September 30, 2015 at 10:07 pm

      No I went alone! It’s super easy to meet people when you stay in backpackers – everyone is keen to meet other travelers!

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