Two friends, two cameras, one maui cascade and three days of adventure and exploration.
The plan - escape Christchurch on a Friday afternoon to search out sunrises, sunsets and stargazing locations to photograph, and discover the best of Hanmer Springs outdoor activities on offer. Here's Billy's story.
Christchurch to Christchurch
Best Time of the Year
All year round
Sunrise at Mt Lyford
Christchurch to Gore Bay
Distance 117km - Driving Time 1.5 hours
I’d been eagerly awaiting this weekend since the plan came together, to jump in a camper and explore the relatively unfamiliar Hurunui District. Though it is close to Christchurch I often found myself heading south when on the road so the prospect of going somewhere new and exciting!
Gore Bay to Hanmer Springs
Distance 100km - Driving Time 1.5 hours
7am Saturday morning, after a solid nights sleep I roll out of bed, quickly get my gear ready and head to the beach. The cliffs at the southern end of Gore Bay are beautiful, particularly as the golden light tickles them and the sun peaks over the horizon. The sound of waves, the ocean breeze and a glorious sunrise is more than I could ask for, if only all mornings were this good.
After a satisfying sunrise, we directed ourselves towards Hanmer. Stopping in Cheviot for a quick brekkie we planned our route west, deciding that the Waiau Road would provide us with the most scenic drive in and we weren’t disappointed! Different layers of cloud and fog made for incredible viewing as the morning progressed!
Arriving in Hanmer just after lunchtime we went straight to Hanmer Springs Attractions to take the jet boat tour and quad bike tour! It was a spectacular day for it as we raced along the Waiau River admittedly getting absolutely saturated and almost froze half to death but the experience was worth it! I was interested to see how the quad bike tour would go as I’ve done a bit of riding in the past and was worried it’d be fairly tame. Thankfully we had a good competent group so our guide was happy to show us some more technical terrain - pleasantly surprised I got wet, covered and mud and shaken to pieces by the ride but it was so much fun that I was disappointed to reach the end!
Not having time to get changed, we raced around the corner in our motorhome to shoot the sunset. Sandy was adamant we’d had a dud of a sunset but in the last minute just as we’d given up hope, some fleeting colour started in the east and rolling through to the west lit up all the high cloud around us. What a way to put a cap on the day!
On arrival at our accommodation in Hanmer Springs I quickly cleaned myself up a little before heading to the pub to watch the All Blacks test! One great thing about Hanmer is there are a lot of local tourists too, after a few cold ones and a great performance by the "boys in black" we continued our pub crawl where we danced the night away and sang until we lost our voices. Thank you Hanmer, you were awesome!
Hanmer Springs to Christchurch
Distance 210km - Driving Time 2.75 hours
6.37am Sunday morning I rolled out of bed and Sandy drove us to our second sunrise location. Initially, it was hard to tell if we’d get anything but we’d rather be on location to find out whether it was a goodie or not, rather than chase it like a lost cause, something made that much easier by having a camper. All you had to do was buckle into your seats and go!
Sunrise turned out to be biblical, soft lenticular clouds began glowing pink, red and orange letting off a golden hue on all the surrounded us. We seemed to just have some incredible luck this weekend and for that we were grateful! We were treated to a display that also provided glowing mountain tops and a beautiful rainbow!
On route back to Christchurch we took a detour to Mount Lyford - what a beautiful place. Stopping in at the local lodge just off the main road, we were treated to some local advice resulting in a gorgeous find, Lake Crystal. A small lake just off the road, it gave superb reflections of the vast mountains that towered over her! A wonderful way to sign off the trip!
Arriving back home on Sunday afternoon I found myself tired from our hectic 48 hours on the road, but grateful we had a camper to carry us around comfortably. Definitely a trip I would go on again in a heart beat!
Thanks to Billy Nunweek for the story and images - you can see more of Billy's adventures on Instagram @BillyNunweek.