The first thing we did when we arrived was chill out in the shade of the trees on the main road for some lunch. That was, after we found a car park – the new day park was amazingly empty, considering how full the parks on the main road were.
This was a splurge overnighter. Short notice accommodation (this was meant to be a day trip in our original planning), the hot pools, and jet boating. Overall, it was totally worth it, we had a great time.
Our accommodation was claustrophobic – a small cottage split in two, with beds for 5 in our half. It required a minimum two night stay (we snuck in between two bookings), and figuring out how to get in wasn’t clearly signposted. The kitchen bench was little to no use, good thing we weren’t doing much cooking. But it was amazingly located – less than 200m from the pools. Fantastic.
We did the tourist thing and hit the hot pools. We shelled out for a day-return pass, and went back after dinner (an excellent plan, as it was too hot to go to bed until way late). Sadly, the pools have removed their old option of “all day” and “multi day” passes – now you can get a single entry, one return in a day, or one return the next day. The hydroslides also have conflicting rules about entry, with one having a height restriction and the other an age restriction. Basically, don’t bother unless your child is at least 5 AND 1.2m. Despite just meeting the height rule, the counter wouldn’t sell us a hydroslide band for a pre-schooler.
Our absolute favourite activity was the jet boat ride we picked up cheap from Grab One. AMAZING. We had an absolutely fabulous time with Amuri Jet. Even at full price, the rides from both local jet boat operators were cheaper than those available in Queenstown. We paid less than $100 for the three of us, and spent a solid 40 minutes on the river, with our hilarious and knowledgeable guide. As an added bonus, while we had to pay for our pre-schooler, there are no height restrictions on Amuri Jet (Unlike shotover, at $300 for three of us for 25 minutes, which would include Mr4.5 being free, but risking having to leave him behind on the day because he’s under 1.2m)
The last thing we did before we headed off was grab lunch at the Monteiths Brewery Bar. We should have just gone to the café at Hanmer Jet, next door to Amuri Jet. The service was slow, the food was good but not great, and going all the way back into town, finding parking, getting back out of town etc delayed our departure by a chunk of time, which made for a rather late arrival in Blenheim that night.