Hanmer Springs is a spa town at the foot of the Southern Alps. Rainwater seeps through fractures in the rock, absorbing minerals, before being warmed by geothermal heat deep in the earth, a process that takes over two centuries and ultimately rising to the surface at Hanmer in the form of hot springs.
When we arrived last night it was grey and overcast and by the time we went to bed the rain was hammering down, so we’re not hopeful when we wake up and hear the gentle patter of rain on the roof of the van. I suggested we head out and get breakfast, and we ended up in Fire & Ice, a lovely (but empty) cafe, and we get a superb fry-up sat next to the fire. Rounded off with good coffee and hot chocolate, and we’re set for the day.
The plan was to hire some mountain bikes and go and explore some trails, but the rain is still there when we leave the cafe and there’s also a fine, moist mist which basically soaks you almost immediately.
Not very nice, but great weather for mountain biking right? We are given a lift to Jack’s Pass, the start of our ride, and then left to our own devices, a vague map in my pocket that is getting soggier by the second.
The rain refuses to leave, so we get on with things undeterred. I quickly find out that the gears on my bike are a bit buggered and I have virtually no rear-brake, which is not great as we are about to descend a mountain.
The first section is easy, gravel tracks which wind around the mountain, but the view is obscured by the mist so we carry on to Jollies Pass, and a break in the rain! The going is steep and we struggle up the hill to the top and an amazing view. Crossing a river proves fun, if not a bit damp – I fly through but my amazing bike decides that it’s a great time to throw the chain so I get wet feet. Having watched me, and with the memories of the last mountain bike experience she’d had, Laura decides to walk it through – wet feet but no crashes!
Eventually we reached the bottom of the mountain and a short distance from the village but we still had an hour of bike hire remaining, so headed back into the forest to find the ‘Mach 1’ trail which was great fun, if not tricky without a back brake!
Back in the village, we scraped as much of the mud off as possible and headed to the hot pools, which we had free entry into as part of the bike hire. The spa is made up of several different open-air hot pools, that are a variety of temperatures ranging from 35 degrees to 42 degrees and after a wet and cold bike experience, it is heaven and we soak away the aches and pains. After an hour or so, we headed for our treatments in the spa.
Laura had opted for a Coffee Bean Exfoliation and I went for a Rainshower Exfoliation and Massage. Both were an hour long. INCREDIBLE. I felt like I was floating at the end, it was so good. Laura was also impressed by her treatment and claimed it was probably the best ever.
It was a perfect end to what was in fact great fun despite the inclement weather.