Known for its thermal pools, magnificent trails and seasonal ski slopes, there has not been a great deal of research into the food and drink offered in this picturesque and popular resort town. So team Cuisine has headed out, knife and fork at the ready, to unearth some delicious local gems. Now you can relax in those mineral-rich hot pools without worrying about what’s for dinner.

REFUEL…
Heading from Christchurch and the Waipara on the way into Hanmer Springs (or on the way out for that matter), a great spot to stop is the Red Post Café. You can’t miss it as you drive along Highfield Street in Culverden, as it’s the cutest little villa surrounded by white rose bushes. We’re told that for years this has been the place to get your seasonal and serious whitebait fritter fix. Forget that sausage roll at the gas station, you’ll find a better one here, or you might prefer a homemade cottage pie. Owners Trent and Carolyn Allison and their team are serving up some very good reasons to stop and refuel your soul in Culverden. The soup of the day (when we popped in) was a super savoury-tart tomato, served with hot, buttered sourdough and perfect for slurping from our perch near the open fire. A cup of good coffee and a Belgium biscuit and we were all set for the rest of the drive.
Red Post Café, 2 Highfield Street, Culverden.
facebook.com/highfield.st.culverden

REST UP…
You won’t find a more central place to stay than the Hanmer Springs Hotel. The property dates back to 1897 and breakfast in the grand old dining room – with the watchful eyes of Mrs. Hanmer looking down on you from a vintage snap taken at the Hanmer Jubilee – will give you a sense of the great history behind these iconic walls. This much-loved old hotel is working its way towards a 5-star refurbishment, with plans for the in-house restaurant Isobel’s to stay firmly within the territory of the Mediterranean cuisine for which chef Cesare Stella is renowned. On Sunday nights there is simply no better place to be for pizza and pasta.
Hanmer Springs Hotel, 1 Conical Hill Road, Hanmer Springs.
cpghotels.com

START THE DAY…
For a great breakfast, brunch or lunch in Hanmer Springs there really is no better spot than the Powerhouse Café. The decor of this popular venue still pays tribute to the industrial nature of the 1926 building, which originally housed a small hydroelectric generator driven by water from the Rogerson River. Mary Holloway is the owner, manager, chef and much-loved face behind this terrific local eatery and her extensive menu always reflects the producers and the seasons of the surrounding areas. Bowls of breakfast goodness abound, no doubt you’ll notice the steak sandos flying off the tiny pass, the kedgeree looks super- tasty as do the grilled kūmara corn cakes. Our seafood chowder – packed with fresh fish, topped with cold- smoked Akaroa salmon and served with housemade toasted bread and hummus, was so good we wanted to dive in and swim a few laps in the rich, creamy, wine and herb potage. The drinks list has everything from great coffee to chai, Belgian hot chocolate, super smoothies, beer, wine, cider and a few classic cocktails. The powerhouse is not just a café, it’s hospitality from the heart.
Powerhouse Café, 8 Jacks Pass Road, Hanmer Springs.
powerhousecafe.co.nz

NICE & SPICY…
Smack bang in the midst of the Conical Hill Road attractions you can find Spice Village. This is where the top curry action is and we suggest you start with their street samosa chaat. Smashed and topped with mint yoghurt, tamarind chutney, onion and crunchy noodles, it is terribly hard to stop at just one. The signature here is the zafrani chicken masala, a tandoori chicken on the bone, cooked in creamy saffron-infused cashew gravy and it’s the perfect inner warm-up after all of your snow-peaked activities. Ample servings and ice-cold beers make this a great place to share bites packed with authentic flavour.
Spice Village, 5 Conical Hill Road, Hanmer Springs.
spicevillage.co.nz

DON’T MISS DINNER…
Ask around in hospitality circles as to the best place for dinner in Hanmer Springs and you will be sure to hear the number thirty-one mentioned almost every time. No. 31 has been around since 2012, and now has NZ Beef & Lamb Award-winning chef Dean Robinson behind its elegant menu. The food is a curation of culinary classics done really well with some sneaky little twists from the chef. Spiced southern tahr lands as osso buco, seared scallops are teased with pickled leeks and fumet broth, the eye fillet and ribeye are topped with a blue cheese and bacon crumb and the crème brulée resides in great harmony with poached rhubarb, coconut and almond crumb, black doris plum and a crème fraîche ice cream. With a fabulous wine list that features many of the Hurunui vineyard all-stars, a meal at this quaint old cottage will have you feeling as if you have stepped back to a time when life was unhurried, gracious and comfortably casual.
No. 31 Restaurant & Bar, 31 Amuri Avenue, Hanmer Springs.
restaurant-no31.nz

RELAX AND RECHARGE…
If you are after a little luxury and space while still being close enough to tap into the happenings in town, then Braemar Lodge offers some of the largest suites in Hanmer Springs and also houses a day spa and restaurant/bar. The property is large and the staff are attentive and eager to help you enjoy a premium stay. Why not tuck yourself away from the hustle and bustle, lay back in your private hot tub and relax and recharge while enjoying the stunning views across the valley towards those glorious Southern Alps? Don’t forget to take in the endless starry skies.
Braemar Lodge & Spa, 283 Medway Road, Hanmer Springs.
braemarlodge.co.nz

Cuisine travelled to the Hurunui courtesy of visithurunui.co.nz and newzealand.com

ALSO….

If you are in the area and you have plenty of time, go to visithurunui.co.nz for a full list of things to do, including these beauties…

HANMER FOREST WALKS THE WATERFALL TRACK
This popular track is approximately three hours return but hey, there’s a waterfall!
visithurunui.co.nz/things-to-do/walking-and-biking/listing/hanmer-forest-day-tramps-mt-isobel

THE FOREST AMBLE
A gentle 30-minute walk through stunning trees that includes a multitude of carved wooden statues.
visithurunui.co.nz/things-to-do/walking-and-biking/listing/forest-amble-walk

HANMER SPRINGS THERMAL POOLS AND SPA
One of the top reasons for visiting this town is an opportunity to not only relax in the famous rock and sulphur pools, but also a superb excuse to indulge in a treatment at the rejuvenating spa. Bonus – the kids will love the pools and the slides, too.
hanmersprings.co.nz