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Christchurch to Hanmer Springs - Stargazing, sunsets and exploration

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Two keen local photographers set out to discover what’s on offer and capture the beauty of the Hurunui District. Starting in Christchurch, Sandy Brinsdon and fellow photographer Billy Nunweek picked up their 4 berth maui Cascade and hit the open road ready for an adventurous weekend break culminating in Hanmer Springs. Here's Sandy's story.

Travel

3 Days


Route

Christchurch to Christchurch

427km


Best Time of the Year

All year round

Highlights

Gore Bay

Cathedral Cliffs

Hanmer Springs

Hot Pools

Jet Boat Trip

Quad Bike Tour

The Journey

Days

1 2 3

Sandy Brinsdon

Day 1
Christchurch to Gore Bay

Distance 117km - Driving Time 1.5 hours

Friday afternoon and time to pick up the campervan after work, it's always awesome to get away the night before for a weekend trip. We picked up the 4 berth Cascade and really needed to bring nothing more than clothes and food, and of course a heap of camera equipment. The trip to Gore Bay is relatively short and was stunning with the setting sun. We arrived just on dark and headed to Cathedral Cliffs to do a little astrophotography on a beautiful clear night before settling in near the sea at our campsite. Although it was winter we were cosy with the onboard heater keeping the chill away. Also, a quick tip, check out the oven and if it has trays in it wrap them in a tea towel and you will have a nice quiet trip. 

Sandy Brinsdon

Day 2
Gore Bay to Hanmer Springs

Distance 100km - Driving Time 1.5 hours

When you travel as a landscape photographer, being in the right spot for the sunrise is a must. Gore Bay camping ground was just perfect, with beautiful cliffs, sea and a fabulous morning put on for us. Our destination though was Hanmer Springs, so, via a delicious breakfast in Cheviot at Two Rivers Café, we took the inland road to Waiau. We were slow moving as we had to stop so often to capture the scenes in front of us, winter fog and frost making for some stunning pictures. Hanmer Springs was calling though so midday we headed to Hanmer Springs Attractions where we were treated to an exhilarating Jet Boat trip and a scenic and very muddy quad bike tour which finished just in time to capture the sunset over the mountain ranges. The night for me was finished off with a soak in the hot pools and a meal at a local restaurant, Fire and Ice café with a bit of rugby in the background.

Sandy Brinsdon

Day 3
Hanmer Springs to Christchurch

Distance 210km - Driving Time 2.75 hours

Sunrise called again, and this time we headed out and past the Hanmer Springs turn off a few kilometres to a perfect lookout for an unreal sunrise. It’s so handy making your breakfast while you set up your camera gear and popping in and out of the spacious camper to get everything you need.

We had the whole day to fill in as our camper did not need to be back till 4 pm, so headed further inland to Mt Lyford lodge where a roaring fire and hot coffee was just perfection. Another time this would be an awesome place to stay as they have campervan berths. We headed up the well-formed mountain road for ten minutes. I went for a short explore to Crystal Lake while Billy put his drone up again before we turned around and headed back to Christchurch. Campervanning is pretty new to me, but having your home on wheels with you does make for an easy and stress-free trip.

 

Thanks to Sandy Brinsdon for the story and images - you can see more at his website and Instagram @theafterworkphotographer.