We will be travelling from Kaikoura to Greymouth in October. Should we go via Hanmer Springs or Arthur's Pass? Not worried about the driving distance, just want the most spectacular scenery. Thanks
Hi Gill, I recommend Arthur's Pass. Hanmer Springs is nice for a few hours but essentially is just an outside pool resort. There are plenty of walks around Arthur's Pass and all along that route. If you're a Lord of the Rings fan, there are even some great locations on this route where they filmed. Plenty of places to stop for a picnic, however not many shops along the way so make to stock up.
Arthur's Pass is gorgeous, and has an interesting small-village vibe, BUT Hanmer Springs is a thermal wonderland! If you are at all interested in hot springs, you should go. There are heaps of accommodation options (the best are renting unoccupied family holiday homes), and great food (mostly local), and weird street names all based on North American areas (it's got a slight Aspen feel to it). Mind you, it's nice to have a win/win choice :-)
I concur with Yaniv. Hanmer Springs seems like a good way to go if you are interested in Hot Springs. There is the main resort and a Japanese style onsen. Otherwise, Arthur's Pass offers greater spectacle.
Were you thinking of stopping at Hanmer Springs?
Lewis pass isn't as dramatic or beautiful as Arthurs Pass but Hanmer Springs is lovely it's great to spend a day at the pools and have a morning or evening walk up conical hill.
Arthur's Pass drive is amazing and the village of AP although small is really cute and of course you'll get to meet some cheeky Kea's as well as walks, waterfalls and punch bowls.
Also, is there a particular reason you're going to Greymouth If not then could I suggest Hokitika instead? It has a beautiful beach, a really nice small town feel to it, it is of course one of the best places to get Greenstone (jade) and you can visit Hokitika Gorge and it's where The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton is set, we even found a little wine bar by the same name last time we were there.
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No doubt about it - Arthur's Pass. Stop there for a night or two, it has beautiful walks around town with amazing waterfalls, alpine summits and breathtaking scenery.
On a side note, check out Arthur's Pass Chapel for a nice surprise through its window. Don't Google it, just go there - Arthur's Pass Chapel is located about 150 metres from the Visitor Centre towards the West Coast on highway 73.