Once a rehabilitation centre for war veterans and addicts, the alpine village of Hanmer Springs, 90 minutes northwest of Christchurch, has blossomed into a picturesque tourist town. The chief attraction, then as now, is natural hot pools whose therapeutic properties are boosted by all manner of indulgent treatments.
Hanmer’s tree-lined streets and peaked roofs may remind you of a European spa town but the tramping, mountain-biking, golfing, fishing and jetboating in the surrounding wilderness are 100 per cent New Zealand. When you’re thoroughly de-stressed, head for the wineries and food trails of the Waipara Valley an hour away. See visithanmersprings.co.nz witchetty grub). There are lots of food festivals in New Zealand but this one is about exposing your palate to something new. Held annually in the town of Hokitika on the South Island’s West Coast (the next event is March 12, 2016), it’s a chance to tuck in to local offerings such as marinated tuna, whitebait patties, smoked high-country salmon and game meats. Oh, and don’t miss the Feral Fashion Competition. See wildfoods.co.nz