Before I get into today’s activities, here’s a warning for visitors to Hanmer Springs: the i-site is only open 10 to 5, and expect it to open late. This is a bad thing if you arrive after 5 because you need the $3 map to find the good hikes. And expect logging activities to interfere with hiking activities. I guess the forestry companies let you hike there until it’s harvest time.

So today we planned to hike up to the Conical Hill lookout before the visitor’s centre opened. Instead we ended up at the Woolshed Gallery (www.woolshednz.co.nz), which has four locations in New Zealand, where I managed to pick up a top for C$25. Then the i-site was open so we went over to buy our map for hiking. It was pretty lame, and I’m tempted to stand outside the i-site at 5:15 to sell it to somebody else.

Sarah @ Dog Steam Waterfall, Hanmer Springs, New Zealand

The hike itself was pretty good. We did the one off McIntyre Road called the Waterfalls Track, which takes you up to the Dog Stream Waterfall (a 45 metre drop). It is considered a moderate tramp by kiwi standards, with an estimated hiking time of 2.5 hours. We completed it in under 2 hours, so either we’re getting fit or kiwi standards have dropped to cater to tourists.

The falls were a good lunch spot, with three other couples already there when we arrived, and a few others arriving after we did. Today was the first time I had brought my trekking poles, and they came in handy on the descent.

A few things to note about this hike. At the bottom lots of the beech trees have the parasite poo that attracts bees. If you have a fear or allergy to bees, stay away or run by really fast. A few rogue bees ran into to us on the way up, and the mozzie were starting to appear on the descent. The track gets narrow in spots and muddy in a few locations. You’ll need to feel comfortable crossing streams via stones as well.

After we finished the hike we planned to drive over to the skifields to check them out. We drove on an unsealed road for about 15 minutes, but I started to get a bit uncomfortable, being on the cliff side, and convinced NosyNeighbour to turn around when possible. On our way up we had passed a lone female mountain biker, and she gave us the cyclist’s nod on our descent since we were going slowly and didn’t cause as much dust as the 4x4s did ahead of us. She didn’t know that it was our maximum speed so as not to damage the car. While we didn’t  see the skifields, we did learn that what we thought might have been posts for the ski lift were actually hydro posts.

We headed back to Montieth’s to watch the Olympics and have a few pints. Our Belgian bartender was working again, and we had a good chuckle about the sequins on the male figure skaters’outfits.

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