Geographically vast and yet light in population compared to its neighbouring districts, the Hurunui is quietly and confidently making a name for itself outside of the North Canterbury brand it has always hidden beneath. The landscape of the Hurunui is varied and stunningly picturesque, with flat plains and alpine ranges, vineyards and farmlands, beaches both sandy and stony, braided rivers and limestone ridges.
Hurunui is refreshingly unpretentious and authentic in its delivery of high-end culinary, wine, shopping and unique
outdoor experiences. Even the restaurants that are world-renowned deliver spectacular service and food in such an
effortless way, with a genuine warmth that is such a hallmark of the district that visitors cannot help but slow down, relax and enjoy.
(Pictured) A 15-minute car ride from Greta Valley will see you arrive at Motunau Village, one of the South Island’s best kept secrets. This sleepy little village has no stores, not even a café. There is no cell coverage. What it offers instead is a beautiful, safe and often quiet sandy beach that is perfect for swimming, with views out to Motunau Island and Banks Peninsula. The waterfront has a playground and rock pools that can keep children happy for hours, and a camping ground that costs as little as $10 per night. Fishing charters are available seasonally, and there are tennis courts, a petanque pitch and picnic tables for lazy Sundays by the ocean. Make sure to stop at Fossil Point Café and Gallery in Greta Valley when you leave
Waipara Wine Valley
The Waipara Wine Valley is home to award-winning winery restaurants such as Pegasus Bay and Black Estate, both of which offer a menu featuring local ingredients paired with some of the best wines on offer in the most stunning of settings. For a more family-friendly (but still high-quality) dining experience, try the newly opened Fiddler’s Green Bistro or the iconic Waipara Springs Winery. Georges Road Wines offers a picturesque spot in which to unwind for a night or two amongst the vines, or for spectacular views, a night at the PurePod at Greystone overlooking the Waipara Valley is an unforgettable experience. Greystone also offers winery tours with platters and tastings, or follow the Hurunui Trail that meanders through Greystone, Black Estate and Muddy Water. It can be cycled or walked, is family friendly and completely free.
For a taste of local history, take a return trip on the vintage Weka Pass Railway to Waikari, and stay the night at The Old Glenmark Vicarage in Waipara. The vicarage, built in 1907, offers a luxury homestay experience in the immaculate house overlooking the established gardens, or in the converted barn with spa and outdoor pool.
Cheviot is home to a number of cafés and is only a short drive to Gore Bay – a scenic beach and well-known surf spot. The Cathedral Cliffs, a breathtaking natural formation, is a popular spot for a photo across the Bay. For those with a love of walking and cycling there are plenty of tracks to discover around this small town, or for an adrenalin rush, check out Energy Jet for a thrilling ride up the spectacular braided Hurunui River with the Loughnan family, and then glamp on their family farm surrounded by native bush in Lotus Belle tents. While motels and cottages are plentiful in and around Cheviot, Ribbonwood Country House is nearby for a country-style bed and breakfast situated in an exquisite country garden and boasts the added option of a spa treatment or two during your stay.
Mt Lyford, located around 50 minutes from Hanmer Springs, is a quiet settlement at the edge of the Kaikōura Ranges, untainted by tourism and the perfect place to get away from it all. In winter ski bunnies can enjoy the Mt Lyford Ski Area, with slopes on Mt Terako catering for all abilities. Winter visitors can also enjoy an ice skating rink, which sometimes extends its opening hours to the evening, with music and lights for a magical skating experience. In summer, there is an abundance of outdoor activities including mountain biking, tramping and fishing. Mt Lyford Lodge nearby offers a variety of accommodation options, from luxury rooms to tent sites, while Mt Lyford Holiday Homes offers unique places to stay, such as the Harakeke Huts (pictured), pine pods nestled in the native bush, or the sustainable and modern Eco Lodges.
Amberley is Hurunui’s largest town and is fast becoming a destination known for its exceptional boutique shopping and vibrant café scene. Mumma T Trading Lounge, with its eclectic treasure trove of vintage and new wares laid out in ‘rooms’ across its vast floor space, is as much an experience as it is a store, and worth making the time to explore. Those who love vintage will also enjoy Me, Now You clothing, with its large collection of new and pre-loved quality garments. For the best ever almond croissants visit the authentic French Paris Bakery and Café, and after perusing the shops, the award-winning Nor’Wester Café is the perfect spot for lunch.
For craft beer lovers, the family-run Brew Moon Brewing Company on Markham Street is a must-visit. Enjoy a beer outside in the sun in summer, or by the cosy fire in winter with a delicious woodfired pizza. Also on Markham Street is Ruby Six, a beautifully curated store selling clothing, jewellery, gifts and homewares. Amberley is also the starting point for the Hurunui Heartland Cycle Ride, a new 210 km scenic cycle trail connecting Amberley and Kaikōura.
The alpine resort town of Hanmer Springs is well known for its thermal hot pools, where visitors can soak in its therapeutic mineral waters or enjoy the aqua play area with its lazy river and water slide. A new slide, aptly named the Conical Thrill after Hanmer’s Conical Hill, is due to open 8 November. After relaxing in the hot pools or enjoying a massage in the spa, visitors can enjoy walking or cycling through the various Hanmer Forest trails or playing mini golf in the town centre. There is a range of accommodation options for every budget from the luxury St James Hotel, ideal for a romantic getaway, to the Village Lake Luxury Apartments who cater for couples, families and groups, to holiday homes and camping grounds. The abundance of cafés, restaurants and beautiful shops is sure to delight.
Thanks to Village Lake Luxury Apartments in Hanmer Springs we have 2 nights of accommodation in one of their beautiful two-bedroom apartments up for grabs! Valued at $530 this is the perfect excuse to get out and explore the beautiful Hurunui. Located in the heart of Hanmer Springs, the Village Lake Luxury Apartments offer everything you need to escape the chaos and unwind with a touch of luxury. Enter online at latitudemagazine.co.nz/competitions. Terms and conditions apply.
Words & IMAGES Claire Inkson