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pectacular scenery, relaxing soaks in the hot pools, a fabulous spa and lots of outdoor adventures – think bungy jumping, mountain biking, tramping and jet boating to name a few. I found all that and more within easy reach of the small Hanmer Springs alpine village. As a destination Hanmer Springs is not too far from our main Top of the South towns and cities; approx. 300km from Nelson, 356km from Takaka and 258km from Blenheim. Once there it’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of many other tourist hotspots. What makes it an ideal rest, relaxation and rejuvenation destination is the range of activities to suit all ages and all types of inclinations. The people are genuine and friendly and very keen to induct others into their way of life. Residents Duncan and Kellie MacKenzie moved to Hanmer seven years ago to ‘get out of Auckland’. They love their lifestyle change and the opportunities it provides them and their two daughters. Duncan has been general manager at the Heritage Hanmer Springs hotel for the past five years and is regularly in touch with domestic and international visitors, along with the locals. Kellie also works at the hotel. Moving to Hanmer was a spur-of-the-moment decision after an Auckland motorway crash meant it took hours for Duncan to arrive home one day. The Hanmer Forestry Camp needed a management couple so they packed their bags, loaded the girls – aged three and five – on board and headed south.

Time bubble

“We have never regretted our decision,” says Duncan. “The girls have learned to ride bikes, spend time in the outdoors and grow up in a safe environment.” The old adage ‘first impressions count’ worked its magic on Duncan on his initial visit to Hanmer in 2012 and those impressions are still with him today. “I was born and raised in Dunedin, then worked in Auckland and had never been to Hanmer before. What I loved (and still do) is my first impression; as soon as we crossed the bridge coming into Hanmer it was as if time had slowed down. Driving in past the big redwood trees into the village was like going into a time bubble.” The pace of life in Hanmer can be as fast or as slow as individuals wish, he says.

“… as soon as we crossed the bridge coming into Hanmer it was as if time had slowed down. Driving in past the big redwood trees into the village was like going into a time bubble.” DU NCAN MACKENZ IE

Above: Sampling the village wares Opposite page: A relaxing soak in an alpine environment

The village has what he calls a transient population of around 950, of which roughly half regularly move on and are replaced by newcomers. On the other side are the domestic and international visitors, comprising two thirds New Zealanders and one third overseas tourists. They’re a mix of those seeking hot pools and relaxation and those wanting more active pursuits or combining both. Many are unaware of the extent of what Hanmer has to offer, says Duncan. “The most frequent comment from visitors is: ‘I wish I’d known there was so much here to do; I would have stayed another day’.” Outdoor enthusiast and Harcourts real estate agent Jackie Frame has lived in the Hanmer village for 15 years, reveling in the great outdoors. “People know about the hot pools, but not always about the forest walks, the mountain biking and the adventure experiences here,” she says. “I enjoy all of that and especially the alpine feel of the area.”

Real estate micro-climate

The permanent population of Hanmer village has been growing steadily, she says, despite the fact that about 80 percent of the residences there are holiday homes. “We have a real estate micro-climate with a combination of permanent residences and the holiday home market. Overall it’s a positive market, with steady growth and a significant rise in the average section price over the last 18 months. We currently have a new subdivision going in, with 57 sections.” The average section price is currently around $204,000 for a section varying from 500 to 3000 square metres depending on location, compared with $160,000 18 months ago, she says. Newcomer Lauren Woodford, who is the marketing manager at Hanmer Holiday Homes, has lived there just on four months, alongside her husband’s family who have lived there roughly 14 years. She and her husband moved from Australia to join his parents in the family business. 31

Profile for WildTomato

WildTomato June 2019  

Local Distilleries | New Hospice | Hanmer Springs | Marlborough Book Festival | Mountain Bike Club | Arts Festival Trust | Fashion Finery |...

WildTomato June 2019  

Local Distilleries | New Hospice | Hanmer Springs | Marlborough Book Festival | Mountain Bike Club | Arts Festival Trust | Fashion Finery |...