The spa town of HANMER SPRINGS is delightfully relaxing and has enough minor attractions and activities to fill the odd day. Pleasantly situated at the edge of a broad, fertile plain snuggled against the Southern Alps foothills, Hanmer has just 700 residents, but the place is awash with holiday homes and – in keeping with the holiday spirit – a preponderance of mini-golf courses.
While searching for stray cattle in 1859, one William Jones stumbled across the springs, fed by rainwater that seeps down through fractures in the rocks of the Hanmer Mountains and accumulates in an underground reservoir some 2km beneath the Hanmer Plain. After absorbing various minerals and being warmed by the earth's natural heat, the water rises to the surface via fissures in the greywacke rock. Word of Hanmer's waters spread at a time when the beneficial effects of mineral baths were much hyped and, by the 1870s, the town had become nationally famous for its waters' relaxing and curative properties.