Hanmer Springs is a small town in the Canterbury region of the South Island of New Zealand.
The town is named after Thomas Hanmer, an owner of Hawkeswood Station near the Conway River during the 1850s. The locality was discovered for its hot springs by William Jones in early 1859. Access to the general area was provided by a bridge over the Waiau River in 1864 constructed by a Mr Handisides of Nelson for NZ£2,000 to a design by John Blackett. The bridge lasted only ten years before it was blown over by a Nor’west wind.
John Turnbull Thomson surveyed the land for the township in 1879, with the total area comprising 2,500 acres (1,000 ha), of which 300 acres (120 ha) were for the township itself. The hot springs were not included within that area. The springs themselves were still in their natural state at that time, with only steps and a changing shed provided. The member for Ashburton, Edward George Wright, brought up the question of developing the township in the New Zealand House of Representatives in June 1882. The Minister of Lands, William Rolleston, replied that it was important that the public should retain access to the springs. Surveyor Walter Kitson was instructed with laying out the site of the hot springs including an accommodation house. Construction of a bath house began in January 1884. The fifty year jubilee was held in 1933, stating that Hanmer had been a government resort since 1883, but the centenary book pointed out that the jubilee was held a year too early. The government investing significant funds into Hanmer Springs without a bridge crossing the Waiau River caused considerable controversy. Blackett designed a new bridge and John Anderson from Christchurch won the contract to erect it, and built a foundry at the site. This second bridge opened in 1887 and gives access to Hanmer to this day, with the structure registered as a Category I heritage item since 1983. The opening celebrations held by Anderson’s sons at the site were rather liberal to the extent that the site is still known as Champagne Flat.
It is located 65 kilometres southwest of Kaikoura (135 km by car), in the Hurunui District and 130 kilometres northwest of Christchurch. The town lies on a minor road 9 kilometres north of State Highway 7, the northern route between Christchurch and the West Coast via Lewis Pass. The township lies at the base of Conical Hill. According to the 2013 census, the resident population is 840.